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LETTER: A bit of kindness would help solve some of our city's problems

'Alone we can do so little — together we can do so much'
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SooToday received the following letter from reader Peter Vaudry on the role kindness and respect play in the community.

In a community, it isn’t that there are no challenges and mistakes aren’t made. It’s how the community deals with them that counts.

I had the opportunity to read a draft copy of a book written by Frank Sarlo named A Special Place. In it he provides many reasons for Sault Ste. Marie being a special place. One of the main reasons is that when there is a need in the community, our people rally to meet the challenge. He provides many examples. It is called the “Power of We.” I believe that it is time for the community to come together to address the challenges we face today.

We have a very capable Mayor in Matthew Shoemaker who released an open letter to the community, on Sept. 9, assuring local residents that he and other leaders are working as hard as possible “to make our city safe, healthy, and the envy of North America.”

The problems Mayor Shoemaker wrote about in his letter — community safety, health, mental health issues, drug addiction — are challenging problems and require the effective marshalling of administrative/government resources. We, as a community, are looking forward to positive recommendations and results and measurable successful outcomes. The Mayor and Council along with city staff and other government agencies are focusing their resources on problems they are best equipped to address.

There are less obvious problems in our community, ones that don’t make big headlines in the news but do affect the quality of life and community spirit in Sault Ste. Marie. These have to do with social values and behaviours and they are better suited to being addressed by the community.

I think a good portion of the Sault is familiar with the quarterly publication, Our Daily Bread, which stated in a comment of July 12, 2022, “It has become sadly 'normal' to attack not only the opinion of others but also the person holding the opinion”

Kindness and respect — perhaps due to the current economic situation — these appear, to me, to be absent at times in our City. Some segments of the community are angry, for all sorts of reasons.

The problem is their anger is reflected in negative behavior, comments, and personal slandering. Most people are too polite and/or afraid of conflict to speak out about this. As a result, such angry acting out is becoming normalized or “seemingly accepted” as OK. Is it? We need to ask, is this what we want for our community? Is there a better way to deal with anger?

I really believe that this is a problems that We, as a community, can tackle through the power of we. I’m sure other citizens have ideas about how to do this and will bring them forward in due course. I’d like to get the ball rolling by putting forward a suggestion.

I think a significant part of the we of our community are faith groups.

There is an opening and a need for Faith Groups in our community to step forward and lead the conversation in the Sault to a better place. For example, using Facebook and other forms of social media, the leaders of faith groups could send their members a weekly message on kindness and ask them to share it with their family and friends. In this way, the message would reach a good percentage of the Sault. If they also asked family and friends and followers to share the message with their contacts it would then be shared more broadly.

Similarly, the “we” identified as the nano-influrencers in SSM — the everyday social media users, with anywhere from 50 to 100 followers or more — could help spread the message of kindness and respect.

Social media are powerful communication tools being used by many. “Let’s take advantage of what already exists to help spread a positive message and reinforce community social values such as kindness and respect.”

Through such initiatives, the Sault could set a positive example and “make our city safe, healthy, and the envy of North America,” as the Mayor wrote in his letter.

Alone we can do so little — together we can do so much.

Peter Vaudry

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