When a group attempts to railroad in an initiative instead of building consensus about the idea, it drives me crazy when members of that group resort to fallacious arguments. I try to be a good listener and prefer not to go on too many rants so please humour me if I sound a bit preachy.
The fallacious argument I hear the most often is the comment when some folks oppose an initiative forced upon them, that those people are “afraid of change” or “can’t accept change”. It’s an attack on the person rather than addressing that person’s argument.
Right now, for example, in Penticton the City Council has pushed through a number of proposals that have considerable public opposition. I live in the Regional District of Okanagan South so I really don’t get a vote in city politics despite the fact many of Council’s decisions impact me. I don’t profess to have all the pertinent background details required to make an informed decision. Nonetheless I resent that Council seems to withhold pertinent information and then suggests that it knows better than the average citizen because it has all the facts. Such a comment is as condescending as a parent answering a child’s “why” inquiry with the response “because”. If the proposal is so compelling, why can’t leadership involve the community and get them excited about it?
One of these current initiatives involved rezoning a park now used as a sports field so a new hotel could be built close to the convention centre. Quite frankly, a liveable community requires parkland dispersed throughout it – yes, even next to a convention centre. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give existing hotels some sort of incentives to improve? Right across from the convention centre is the aging and frayed El Rancho Motel. For as long as I can remember that land has had such usage. To me, it would make sense to tear that down and build a multi-storied hotel there – maybe even with a plus fifteen walkway across Westminster to the convention centre. Without a valid argument to convince me otherwise that seems logical. I’d rather beautiful the existing ball park even more and make it a jewel within the convention centre complex. Imagine how different New York City would be if city council there kept trading off pieces of central parkland? Yes, I know it’s a different scale: Just the same, green space interspersed throughout a city is desirable on many levels.
The Skaha Marina project is yet another one where those in power claim to know best. Again, I would say if the reasoning is fair and rational, why not engage citizens and get them on board rather than demeaning those who oppose the idea?
And for the record, I am tired of some of the younger and middle-aged folks criticizing the seniors in Penticton for being unwilling to accept change. Excuse me, those individuals over 80 years old have seen more radical changes during their lifetime than the rest of us can even imagine.
Of course, there are some people in every age category that are suspicious of change. You will find different approaches to accepting change in all ages groups. There’s no need to resort to ageism. To me it makes much more sense to inspire others with the brilliance of your fine ideas rather than to belittle them for taking a critical approach.
When the eminent leadership scholar Warren Bennis once said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” I believe he meant that in a collaborative rather than prescriptive or dictatorial way.
There, it’s out of my system now. I’ll step down from my soapbox and get back to enjoying summer in the Okanagan.