Civil Community participation should be praised and encouraged !

In newspapers and on radio we often hear about voter apathy and low voter turnout. So when an issue is presented that gets people’s attention and gets them active, in my opinion it is a good thing.

When an important issue comes forward in a community we see citizens getting involved.

In Dracut we saw groups form for and against a tax override, in Tewksbury we saw groups form over the question of slot parlors in town.

Lowell has seen two groups come forward in support of a new/renovated High School but the divide is over location.

Whichever “side” you are on, the fact you are willing to get involved, take a stand, hold a sign,attend a rally at a donut shop, sign a petition, attend and speak at various meetings , walk to show support and awareness or even comment on Social media, you should be applauded, encouraged and saluted, especially if you do so in a civil manner. One can act with civility or “in a civil manner (respect, politeness) toward another person,” even if you disagree with that person.

Community participation should not be mocked for the sake of mocking or getting a cheap laugh or to poke the opposition just to get a rise out of them.

The majority of both groups that I have met, are good,decent well intended citizens who care about the High School and its location for various reasons.

I refuse to believe the EVERY person who wants the High School Downtown is a NIMBY just as I refuse to believe that the Belvidere residents who support Cawley are elitist who just want to keep their students in Belvidere, close to home.

Most are just average community members who have their own legitimate concerns whether you agree with them or not. Many are residents who own property, have children and truly believe that their concerns are genuine and need to be addressed.

Are there fringe members of both group that cross the line? Absolutely! Threatening a Board of Parks member and attacking his reputation is as wrong has calling current City Councilors corrupt. Those are the exceptions and sadly can’t be silenced.

I’ve never had an issue poking or going hard at elected or appointed officials or the media in some cases for many things. In my earlier days when I allowed people to comment without revealing their identity, I crossed the line in responding to someone. I apologized but to many it was to little to late. I was overly harsh and personal and I paid for that…in hindsite rightfully so!

I just don’t believe that attacking or insulting private citizens for behaving civilly is called for. They are not given a stipend or receive a salary, they aren’t paid “professionals” who should better understand the process.

What I’ve found from talking with members of both groups is that most support their stance for many different reasons and that the majority of each group is very respectful of the other. Both groups are made up of caring community members who are willing to get involved.

We need to keep the civility! We need to encourage community participation by all citizens and we need to keep our discussions civil.

Something I sometimes struggle to do when I see or hear blatant false statements.

Civil community participation should be encouraged and those of us who participate should try to keep it civil even when we think the “other side” has crossed the line.

I’m sure some will mock me or point out my history has a grenade thrower but my targets have always been media folks, elected or appointed people or candidates who I feel should know better, not community members who care enough to come forward, participate and be involved.