Friday, November 19, 2010

The basis of sound dialogue: 'the engagement of qualified opinions'

This week, I've been observing a lot of 'discussion'. Online, on television, and in the real world.

Online, there's been some fascinating stuff unfolding at Raise The Hammer, notably how people address 'disparate opinions' (referred to there as 'dealing with trolls') as well as the tendency to leap to conclusions and condemn...or as I like to describe it, 'the rampant need to vent pent-up anger'...which I tend to see as just another aspect of the 'entitlement' trend.

On television, I got a lot out of the presentation on MSNBC that had Lawrence O'Donnell, host of the late-night show 'The Last Word' co-hosting a town-hall meeting addressing immigration, specifically the Latino issue. There, 'disparate opinions' were dealt with quite well, even though the participants often had wildly opposing beliefs.

In the real world, I've watched how denial and avoidance and distraction can manifest themselves into ordinary, workaday situations...almost always to the person's detriment: nothing impacts Life quite as much as -the dearth of- communication.

The thing about communication, or discussion, or dialogue if you will, is that in order for it to exist, there has to be an exchange.

So far, regarding de-amalgamation of The City That Is Hamilton, there hasn't been any.

Oh, there's been conjecture.

There's been head-shaking dismissal.

And there's been scoffing.

But I haven't seen or heard any actual discussion, no dialogue, not even from our elected officials.

Here's my bottom-line: I'm not declaring that de-amalgamation has to be pushed through, that we're going to Hell in a hand-basket if we don't. And I don't have at my fingertips a thorough, detailed examination of all the components. In short, I'm not an expert, I'm not revving up a bandwagon that I'm extolling people to climb aboard, I've not engaged in any sloganeering.

What I am declaring that it's impossible to deal with an issue, any issue, to either dismiss it or begin to act on it until you've actually acknowledged that it deserves to addressed. Otherwise, what's going on? Arbitrarily deciding what issues have merit? Based on...? Based on what, exactly? Based on what seems important to you? Based on what you feel the most interest towards? Based on what you feel most comfortable about?

And this is how we govern ourselves? Based on what tastes best?

Look; ironically, I don't believe that it's our politicians who should be generating the momentum to properly examine the issue of de-amalgamation. (Left to their own devices, they never would. The proof's in the fact that nobody's sincerely and genuinely been asking those people who have the most at stake how they actually feel. Why not? Go back and read what I was just yammering on about regarding comfort levels) I believe that it's these very citizens -not just in the five 'ancillary' communities affixed by legislation to Hamilton, but in the old city itself- who must provide the impetus.

After all, in order for the will of the people to be obeyed, it must first be declared.


So regarding de-amalgamation, what we need is the generation of engagement of qualified opinions by our residents.

What we need in order for the dialogue to for the people to speak up.

And this is where my cynicism kicks in.

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.