The #GuelphFactor

IMG_1423.JPGLet me begin by writing that I really don’t care on which part of the municipal election spectrum you fall. If you like the current council and mayor – great. If you want some new blood in city hall – also great. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and political beliefs. That’s the beauty of living in this country. We have the right to vote and the right to hold our own opinions.

But these wonderful rights come with some responsibilities. And truth be told, those responsibilities aren’t really all that demanding.

First and foremost, for us to call ourselves a civilized society, we have to be civil to each other. No matter what your complaints about Guelph, we are fortunate to live in a city that is so amazing. Yes, there is always room to improve, but the fact remains that Guelph is a prosperous, vibrant city, full of so many people who actually give a damn about what happens here. So much so, that I’ve witnessed do-good group “A” worrying that do-good group “B” (which do the same type of do-goodery) will interfere with the ability of do-good group “A” to be as do-good as they want to be.

Seriously! We should recognize how lucky we are to live in a city where people care this much. Imagine how much do-goodery could be accomplished if we actually worked together. Our similarities far outweigh our differences, and there is an enormous amount of potential if we would simply recognize that. But, for some silly reason some of us opt to focus on the things that build walls between us.

And that likely is why, in response to our upcoming elections, I’ve seen the aggressiveness and name calling I have on social media. People here – across the political spectrum – are so passionate that they sometimes forget their civility; they forget that other opinions – no matter how opposite or contrary to their own – are valid and essential to making our City the best version of Guelph that it can be.

People are not stupid or elite or arrogant or any other label you can give them for having a political opinion. They are citizens who have a voice that should be heard.

Second, and equally important, we need to recognize the damage we are causing to Guelph’s reputation by labelling everything we don’t like as the #GuelphFactor. The #GuelphFactor reminds me of the television show the X-Factor; a show that searches for people who have something special; some unique talent to offer the world. And honestly, Guelph has something special and unique to offer the world. We should be using this branding to improve our reputation, not destroy it.

Sadly, the #GuelphFactor has been connected with those things that some people take umbrage with. People are linking it to all sorts of problems that they believe limit our ability to be a prosperous, and caring community. I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about those problems, but perhaps we should reconsider how we choose to speak of and label those problems. If the things that makes Guelph special and unique are only connected to negatives, people are going to take note and respond accordingly.

Do I love Guelph? Hells ya. Do I think this city is an amazing place to live? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep striving for better; pushing ourselves to be the very best community we can be. It does mean that we need to remember to be civil to each other, and perhaps consider how our current actions might affect our city over the long term.

So I’m putting out a challenge to everyone in this awesome city I have called home for the past 20 years – be kind and considerate to each other, and be kind to Guelph. It may not be your version of perfect, but throwing rocks at it isn’t going to make it better. And for the sake of our city and its future – vote.

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