Activism: the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.
Open up a book on activism or Google “the 10 steps for effective activism” and you will see that some of the highly encouraged main steps are: fight dirty, identify your “enemy,” humiliate through any means possible, and rally others to your cause and encourage them to do the same. Through doing this, you should be able to force the “enemy” into meaningful dialogue.
Really? Sounds a lot like bullying to me.
Bullies use persistent, abusive behavior that’s intended to humiliate or threaten another. They make unreasonable demands, criticize the work ability of others in front of others, they threaten job loss, deny accomplishments, take another’s words and actions out of context, twist stories in an effort to manipulate others, and they do it in a public format in an effort to maximize the effect. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not what they are saying is the truth. They will say and do anything to gain compliance on their terms.
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Unfortunately, this kind of activism has been rampant in our community. There has been repeated “commentary,” letters to the editor, and social media content that is riddled with misleading, erroneous propaganda by one group in particular. While their mission might be noble, their tactics are not, and in a small town like ours it becomes toxic.
How do most of us handle bullies? We ignore them, we walk away and avoid engaging with them. Wouldn’t it be better to become part of a solution through constructive, collaborative, respectful dialogue that brings people with differing ideas together? Isn’t being polite, honest and kind a better way to open the door to new ideas?
Our Gig Harbor City Council is made up of members that have grown up here, gone to school here, raised their children here, worked here or may retire here. Some of us will do all of those things. Each member cares very deeply about this city. Each desires to make sure that others will have the same opportunities in the future. There are obviously different ways of facilitating that and because none of us has a crystal ball, we do our best to be informed and engaged with the citizens around us.
Quite often we are faced with weighing the needs of the few against the needs of the whole. It’s never easy, but we do take the time to listen, we do try to weigh all of the options and quite often we do it in the face of those who resort to what I call “bully activism.”
I can honestly say that each of us on city council truly appreciates involved citizens that take the time to fully understand the issues and engage with us and the rest of the community in a positive manner that brings the community together to solve the issues that we are faced with.
Be proactive, ask questions, get to know each of your city council members, talk to city staff, check the city website, attend meetings or listen to the recordings of them, become informed and make up your own mind. The information is out there and easy to access in a number of ways.
If you need help, feel free to contact any of us. Our contact information is on the city website.
Gig Harbor City Council member Rahna Lovrovich can be reached at email@example.com.