Problems aren't solved in silence, and solutions aren't created in a vacuum.
Therefore, it only makes sense that discussion and discourse are means to an end when it comes to community, or national, problem solving.
To silence the voices of disagreement is to do yourself a disservice.
It’s silencing sources of inspiration, accountability, and problem solving. It’s silencing the voices you represent.
Sure, people, especially those in positions of authority, find themselves under fire often and can be prone to develop habits of deflection and defensiveness. But wouldn't engagement be a better solution? Wouldn't listening to understand, rather than listening to argue, be more productive?
I think we can all agree people deserve representation that says "get involved" and "I want to hear from you" and means it.
This week I listened as a concerned citizen called an elected official and said "I want to talk about this issue…it's something that really concerns me."
Only to hear the official in question say "No, no. That's not the issue. Here's what we need to talk about. Here’s the real news."
Those in authority who simply give lip service to transparency and engagement are not only selling themselves short, but they're doing a serious disjustice to their constituents. Constituents are told to call, to write, to email, to activate. When they do, they deserve to be recognized, whether those in positions of leadership like what is being said or not.
Leadership, in any capacity, is a big job. Heavy is the head that wears the crown—we all understand that. But there comes a time when using the weight of the crown as an excuse for being ineffective is just that, an excuse.
Leaders who complain their behind-the-scenes work isn’t recognized and politicians who invite public comment only to meet it with hostility are not only creating distrust but they’re abusing what could be an otherwise beautiful system. They’re missing opportunities for collaboration, creation, and progress. Not only do they deserve better, but so do all of us.
Cydney Baron is the editor of the Claremore Progress.