Friday, August 1, 2014

Can you really reason with people and change their minds?



Been thinking about friends lately and of my self of course. I think lots these days. Mostly about regrets and mistakes. Boy I wish I could go back and correct the mistakes I have made. But that is unrealistic. Have you every wished so damn hard that you want it so bad that you would do anything to have it come true? I remember doing that the day my boy passed. Hard thing. I wish I could have been reasonable when given advice by others. Now I live with the consequences of being stubborn.

I am haunted by my own ghosts. My own mistakes, my decisions, my choices and my actions. They come visit me every single night. It is a bugger I tell you. At night you don't want those thoughts coming in your head. But they seem to push their way through and its all you can do to stay sane.  

Speaking of being sane (or not sane) our Chief Donavan Fontaine ran for regional Chief in Manitoba. It is for the group called the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC)  and the leader is the Grand Chief. Current Grand Chief is Derek Nepinak. A relatively young man with a law degree. He has made a name for himself by being out spoken to the powers that be, namely provincial and federal governments.  Donavan has found himself in a three man race for the post. The other gentlemen is Shelden Kent of Little Black River First Nation.

In any case the race is over and Derek has remained as the Grand Chief.  Donavan ran into some serious opposition from members of his own community. At a forum hosted by AMC for the three candidates to speak, some members of the Sagkeeng community made it known that they did not support Donavan.  I was not there to witness so I can't give my account of what took place. In any case the forum was shut down.

For me I am not sure if the forum was the best place for the community to share its voice. But I don't know.
A lot of anger is going on for sure.  I am not sure of where that anger is coming from or for what issue. But it is getting loud in the community.  The loud or active anger to the Chief and to some degree the rest of Council seems to be shared by a growing number of people. Me, I like to discuss things and see if there can be reasonable approach to fixing a problem. I don't mind challenging the governance but don't like the personal attacks.  Not sure really if that is possible in our reserve. The anger is visceral when it comes to the political leadership in Sagkeeng. Foaming at the mouth visceral.  Just kidding. But it is scary in some cases.

You see I am not sure if people are truly open to reasonable debate.  I think issues that are close to home, or issues that have become personal become entrenched. There is no room for a "second look".  It becomes emotional. Once emotion takes over, no amount of reason can be applied or had. 

I watched a video that had some guy questioning the anti-Obama crowd in the U.S.  Seems that they hate Obama and his policies but are not sure what the policies are. It seems the issue is one of where they dont' like someone and that is that. They say its about the issues, but have no clue as to what the issues are. Despite being appraised of what is in certain Bills, they still have no chance of changing their minds.

Well that is the same thing in our community (I think).  People don't seem to like what the Chief and Council are doing. The Chief and Council negotiated a deal with the provincial hydro entity. The people chose not to accept the deal. Many siting that they are protecting the Earth and water way.  I guess that's kind of true, except that the hydro station is still there and will remain there. Not sure of how they are protecting the Earth?  For me the lenght of the deal (forty years) was an issue, but I didn't scrutinize the whole agreement-(man that thing is long) so I couldn't say for sure if it is good or bad for the community. 

I think there is a genuine hatred by some people. Not sure of what the issue, but I do know that the focal point is our Chief. I wonder if a new Chief was had, would the issues be resolved?  I kind of doubt it. You see many of our community ills are entrenched in the mindset of our people. We have divided our community into many different camps: on reserve, off reserve, north shore, south shore, Treaty one, Treaty three, Catholic, Anglocan, Traditionalist, Evangelical, haves and have nots and by family last names. Even those last names are divided by who was the Great Granparents. The divide is a good rallying cry for some that want to cause chaos. There are rallying cries of being disrespected and fighting for Aki (Mother Earth) but I kind of think other factors are in play. But really only the ones yelling know for sure. I think not all of the issues or anger towards the Chief are not community issues but individual ones. I mean for some people its their individual wants and needs that are not being met so they lash out. Use various rallying cries against the governance. But maybe I'm wrong. 

That's the thing isn't it? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone should be heard and listened to. But voicing your opinion with no regard for other opinions is not really right is it? If you can expect to be heard shouldn't you do the same?  I see many people in our community asking for calm.  They take the debates on to the internet sites like Facebook. The posts and replies quickly turn into a "this one and that one" argument. If you raise the issue of having debate you are accused of taking a side.

The side I take is one of civility. Or what can look like points and counter points. Not "you're disrespectful" for saying that. Although I think we all get a little carried away when we feel strongly about something. So I guess you really can't reason with any of us. 

I guess if you feel strongly about something, no one is going to change your mind. Just you. And why should you? 

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