Learning when to speak up and when to keep your head down and shut up

These are two life lessons that I come to a little late in life. I may have mentioned a time or two before about being an only child. Perk – everything for me. Con – nobody to argue with and hence never being afforded the opportunity to learn about not always just speaking your mind, regardless of your audience. Some people are born knowing when to stand up, speak up and fight it out and when it’s time to just keep quiet and soldier on. Having kids first introduced me to these concepts, but social media has driven the lesson home.

As many, some, or at least one of you know, we have a situation in Georgina right now, Keswick specifically, with a HUGE developer wanting to build a 1000+ house subdivision in the middle of the North Gwillimbury Forest. And if not there, than directly across the road on protected countryside lands. The developer owns the lands in question but since receiving the ok for a 1000+ mobile home development on the forest lands 25 or so years ago, nothing has been done to move the project forward and the forest has remained intact and flourished. And while the forest grew, laws changed and society has (generally) woken up to the consequences of the alarming rate at which we are destroying our surrounding natural habitats and essential wetlands. Flash forward to 2015 and the developer decides that the time is NOW to destroy either the forest or countryside to build a fucking TRAILER PARK or yet another over-crowded, un-serviceable subdivision.

In case my feelings on the subject are not abundantly clear, I disagree with the developers position. And because I disagree, I support The North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance (NGFA) in their fight to keep the forest, protected wetlands and countryside in Georgina just that, PROTECTED.

Yes, they own that land, but are the signs really necessary? Seems like a pretty aggressive stance to take in a community your company is trying to "grow."

Yes, they own that parcel land, but are the signs really necessary? They are now posted at regular intervals on both the forest lands and farmlands owned by this company. It seems like a pretty aggressive stance to take in a community that your company is trying to “grow.” Oh, and yes. That is a forest you see behind the sign.

So, how does all of this fit in with learning when to keep my mouth shut or get out there and speak out? Where does this big lesson from social media come from? I’ll tell you.

I posted an update that the NGFA emailed to its supporters on a Facebook group specific to Georgina and issues involving the town. With the link, this is EXACTLY what I added to the post:

Heartsick does not begin to describe how I’m feeling with this newest update. So disappointed in our newly elected Mayor and council (save for Councillor Dave Neeson). May as well left Grossi in power, if the developers were going to continue to dictate the future and landscape of our town.

Perhaps strongly worded, but I feel strongly about what is happening (or not happening) on this issue. There were reply comments almost immediately and things quickly spiraled away from the issue of doing the right thing, ethically and legally and in the best interest of our town, and turned into, what I can only say was bullying behaviour. By adults. Really? Luckily, I tend not to bite when baited and I was able to say my piece and quietly leave, but in the meantime, a few commenters were virtually ‘high-fiving’ each other for irrelevant or snide remarks the other made, obviously feeling very proud of themselves for putting me in my place. They were only interested in attacking me personally, when I was only interested in discussing a very serious and time-sensitive town issue that will have repercussions for our town for generations to come. A few came to my defense, and to those posters, I am thankful, especially for confirming for me that what I was reading was bullying and for letting me know that others also saw the comments of these two people for what they were – argumentative, mean-spirited and misplaced.

I felt that it was important to bring the issue to the forefront and get a real discussion going, to get people to see just what the big deal really is, and that was my motivation for posting the link. I believe that I have posted to that group on two separate occasions and on each of them, one of these same people has zeroed in and attacked me personally, rather than discussing the merits of the issue. I do not know this woman (nor do I want to know her), I know nothing more about her than her Facebook profile and posts tell me. And she knows only that much about me. I do know that she isn’t only offended by my opinions, that she has run-ins or arguments with many people in various groups, so at least I am secure in the knowledge that this time, with this person, it really isn’t me, it’s her.

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So, thank you social media, for making sure that I learn the lesson up close and personal. The forest and preventing the development of our beautiful protected lands is something worth standing up for, but that particular Facebook group is not the place for me to do so, so I am choosing to keep my head down and soldier on, silent in that group and other groups in which they post. I’ll continue to try to spread the word and gain support for the protection of our small town green space on here, on the Facebook page for The Keswick Blog and my personal page.  I have so many wonderful things to focus on to bother wasting my time or effort arguing with people who want only try to bully and belittle others in general, and me in particular. I see my choice not as a sign of weakness, but rather a show of strength, maturity and personal growth. See? I can adult when I have too. 😉

My six-year-old son drew this for me on last weekend.  And it may not be true globally, but to him it is, and that's really all that matters to me.

My six-year-old son drew this for me last weekend. And while it may not be true globally (since nobody really knows who I am), to him it is true, and that’s really all that matters to me. The opinions I really value belong to those people who I know and respect – friends and family fall into that category. Oh, and Carl Hiaasen, I value his opinion too. He just gets it.

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