As I started to write the column for this week’s Chamber news, it had the appearance of a completely different tone and substance, given some previous letters of opinion and articles circulating at the end of last week. Non issues become issues; “fake news” becomes real news. Time and distance is always a good thing, especially in these days of instant gratification, which the electronic age has provided to anyone with a smart phone or computer.
Some might argue that the access to information on the internet/electronic highway, has made a difference in how we communicate and they would not be wrong. But that in my opinion is a double edged sword. Not only is the access to information easier for all of us, but it can also allow opinions to become “gospel truth’s” for those that read it whether it be news, opinions and or comments regarding many so called, news worthy items.
As the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce has moved from the traditional operating board to a governance board model, one of the clear directions from the Board is that we speak as a unified voice in public. Whether or not board members agree or disagree on any proposal put forward, once the discussion is complete, votes are taken and the Board follows the democratic process. Win or lose on a vote, the topic is over and the Board moves on, together.
We are fortunate to have the right to speak freely in this country and that is especially important that we keep this in mind each and every day. Remembrance Day is right around the corner and many of our relatives fought and died for those rights, but with those rights, also come responsibilities. Those of us that choose to speak or write publicly, need to probably every once and a while, step back and ask ourselves, whether or not we are being fair.
Going back to my earlier comments, instant gratification via media, internet or any public domain, cannot and should not be utilized to demean individuals or groups that we may not agree with or share the same opinions. I believe it was Mark Twain who once said “never let the truth get in the way of a good story, unless you can think of something better”. I think Mr. Twain probably had great insight into what our world, was going to evolve into.
If we are going to move our City and district forward, we have to do a better job in communicating and even more so, in a positive manner. We cannot continue to fight each other and expect the outside world not to notice. When we look at successful communities that are progressive, innovative and thriving, there is always discourse and disagreement, but the overriding theme is always positive. It’s time for us to remember this and particularly before we press the “enter or send” buttons. A kinder and gentler society is probably not a bad option.
Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.