I’ve been thinking a lot about words recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks in Ireland, surrounded by two languages so different from each other, and yet adapted to serve one people. Words are amazing things. Humans are the only creatures on earth to produce novels, plays, poetry, songs, and so many languages, each expressing a particular culture and identity. When Hamlet was asked what he was reading, he replied: “Words, words, words”. (Classical reference; product of a good education). We depend on words to communicate, to express ourselves, to find our place in life. “It’s only words, and words are all I have”. (Bee Gees reference; product of a proper education).
Even the original source of some of the words we use shows the imagination and power of words to communicate ideas that are otherwise impossible to express. Think of the word “sincere”. We know what it means, generally, but it comes from a Latin phrase, “since cera”, which means without wax. In other words (there’s that word again), solid, dependable. There is no wax filler made to look solid, all is firm and real, hence, sincere.
Against that, there’s a wonderful Irish saying that also says something otherwise hard to express. Translated into English, it says “it’s only from the mouth out”, meaning, it’s not sincere, not true and honest. Things said from the mouth out don’t come from the heart, are not genuine or true.
We’re in an election, and all that is sincere and only from the mouth out is being heard, especially online. Things are being said about the Times, hateful things that are, not to put too fine a point on it, lies. People are saying we have published hate, but can’t actually cite anything specific to prove it. This is because there isn’t anything like that. These people say something is “hate-filled”, when they really mean they don’t agree with it.
It is amazing to me that there are so many who believe whatever they see posted on social media. Equally amazing is that the people posting don’t seem to realise that even the ones they are lying about can also see the posts. When confronted, they seem shocked. Someone recently posted about me that I am a “know it all”, and that’s one of the nicest things that has been posted. When I actually quoted this to the man who posted it, he squirmed a bit and said: “Don’t take it personally!”.
Is that not the most ridiculous thing? There is really no way that any credence can be placed on anything someone like that posts online. But it is only too widespread these days for people to accuse others in the safe cocoon of Facebook. Now, it is not the Canadian way to get into a public argument, or to be too controversial. But I am Irish, and according to the stereotype (and my personality) I am not averse to discuss things openly. Read Wendy’s Letter published in this issue, and then ask yourself: what kind of people create that level of fear and trauma on a neighbour? Is this really the kind of community you want? Do the keyboard crusaders even care that they are acting in so callous and vindictive a way?
Individuals in North Grenville have posted hateful and nasty things about the Times, accusing us of being hateful and nasty. Do they even see the irony, not to mention the utter hypocrisy of that? A small business lashes out at us because we tried to provide a forum for all points of view, perhaps forgetting that we, too, are a small business here: not a corporate publication, but a local community newspaper that has tried to provide that forum. We are not obligated to give space to all sides, but we think it’s the right thing to do, and we shall keep doing it.
The business of a newspaper is based on words, as is the business of a politician, or wanna-be politician. I will stand behind the words we write and publish, sincerely. But words are dangerous. “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider that a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire.” One candidate for Council this time has been busy online making statements that are a fire, deliberately designed to cause division and without merit. We have a record of this and will be happy to publish it. This election has become as nasty and vicious as I feared it would be. The majority of those running are sincere, without wax, even where they disagree with each other. These deserve attention and consideration. Some are busy pandering to every possible group of potential supporters, careful not to be too specific about what their support would actually mean once they got elected. This is the way of politics, always.
North Grenville had one Council who wrote an open letter declaring that no-one, not the media and not the public, had the right to criticise them. They got thrown out. Other Councils were divided and bitterly antagonistic to each other. This time, we’ve had an era of peace and good government, even if not everything was done that perhaps should have been done. I want to hear from people who talk about what they are for, not what they’re against, who have a broader vision, not a narrow sectarian one. I’m looking for those who are without wax, and nor talking only from their mouth. What about you? “It’s only words, and words are all I have….”