Communication is Power


by Councillor Jim Bertram

One of the best known statements uttered by the famous mathematician (Analytical geometry) and philosopher, René Descartes, is to be found in Le Discours sur la méthode. It reads like this: “Je pense. Donc je suis”. In English: “I think, therefore I am”.

Descartes’ insistence on the necessary connection between thinking and existence may stretch the credulity of many who have lived long and observed much in this world. But, let’s leave any such quibbles to the side for now. Let’s develop Descartes’ idea a little bit further. (Je m’excuse, René). Let’s say this: since I think, and therefore am, maybe I (we) should communicate?

There is much to recommend this. First and foremost, communication of WHAT one thinks is a good sign of mental presence. While it may not be such a good idea in all cases to communicate too much, if one’s thinking is mediocre or worse, communication is often a good idea if one has something important to offer, even if that be only to begin an important discussion from which further ideas may be derived.

I am, therefore I speak. Listen. Read. Write. Argue. Debate. Sing. Draw. And so on, in all manner of communicative ventures and adventures. In short, I send my ideas forth into the world around me to fare as they will in the world of deeds and other ideas.

On July 4, exactly this subject occupied a brief part of North Grenville Council’s attention at Committee of the Whole. While much progress has occurred in the area of communication at the municipality since October 2014, much remains to be done to accomplish more comprehensively some important goals of communication. And what might some of those be? Well, there’s always the importance of getting factual and complete news about municipal affairs out to the public in a timely way. There’s the importance of listening comprehensively and attentively to input from residents. All of it, the positive and the negative. There’s the importance of engaging in meaningful debate of issues when they arise, as they constantly do. And so on.

Well, alright. That’s a beginning list. But how will we do this? Much is made at present of social media, the veritable soupe du jour of communication. Sure. That’s great. But what if what you have to write takes more than a 140 characters? What if what you have to say will take more than 7 seconds? What if you actually have a complete thought to express?
While not wishing to be mistaken for an agent of verbosity, may I speak on behalf of good, old fashioned verbal presentations: conversation? Or, indeed, written expressions of one’s thinking? Or, as has happened twice over the last month between this newspaper and myself, engagement in written debate? A lot can be said in a few hundred words of English prose which might, I fear, overwhelm the Twittersphere. And written English prose has the advantage of permitting the expression of more than three-quarters of a thought at a time, using actual English words. Or French, etc. Take your choice.

I am encouraged by what current Council has done since 2014, and is still attempting to do, in the area of communication. Good stuff. Going further, my belief is that regular forays into the potentially rough and ready world of print media by a (dare I speak the word? ) politician is potentially risky, but useful. One puts one’s ideas four square in the sights of many of those who care – those fierce and skilful wordsmiths among our citizenry who can reduce one to dust, if one is not well-prepared and mentally agile. Even so, I believe communication is so important I shall continue to take that chance, as I have on many occasions since my election. I carry only a few slight figurative scars for having done so.

So, let’s communicate. I’m easy to find. If you wish to talk, catch up to me on e-mail (, or with my colleagues, whose e-mails are listed on our municipal website. Ask for an interview, if you wish. Or, when you see me around, or “wherever” , say hello. Let me know what’s on your mind. Many people have done, and still do.

In closing, the following saying comes to mind: “It ain’t that people don’t know. It’s just that they know so much that ain’t so.” Communication is the only cure for such a state of affairs. So, let’s pay attention. And above all, let’s communicate.


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