The need for opposition in debates

I enjoy hearing the opposite view to mine and using my mind to find a weakness in their argument to use to my advantage.

I enjoy a good debate.

By good debate, I mean I enjoy hearing the opposite view to mine and using my mind to find a weakness in their argument to use to my advantage.

In order to have a good debate, you must allow opposition.

Recently in the city south of us, the issue of allowing opposing views has come up.

There is a controversy regarding park use, specifically allowing a commercial venture to take over a portion of a public park.

The outcry was immediate and grew from a small movement to a large society.

This is obviously a touchy issue with many layers and has lead to a lawsuit being launched by the society  of citizens opposed.

A couple of these citizens requested to be put on a city committee charged with creating a master plan for parks and recreation.

Their application was denied.

It wasn’t denied because they lacked the necessary skills or life experience. It was denied because, in the words of the mayor of Penticton, “When you sue the city, you negate your right to sit on one of their committees.”

This decision was strongly denounced in a letter from Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C Civil Liberties Association saying, in part, “In a democracy, it is vital that citizens feel able to express critical or dissenting views (through lawsuits or other means) without fear of being shut out of the democratic process in the future, or of reprisals of other kinds.”

The entire concept of a democracy is to not only allow opposition but to encourage it.

At election time, we all talk about the lack of turn out at the polls and we wrack our brains for ways to engage the public.

Well, when we treat the public like this, who can blame those watching from turning away.

In the case of appointing a ‘Save Skaha Park’ member to the parks and recreation committee, I can’t understand any reason why they shouldn’t be.

We can learn from those who think differently.

They can learn from us as well and maybe a consensus can be reached.

We used to call that compromise before we started caring more about winning. Now all we seem to care about is ego.

Ego has no place in public life. Leave it at home.

If you are in public office to satisfy some narcissistic need, then you are in it for the wrong reasons.

I realize that those in public service have a tough job an it’s easy to take things personally.

If you believe what you are doing is for the greater good, you must advocate for that at the top of your lungs through healthy debate.

Hiding behind the curtain and surrounding yourselves with only those that share your viewpoint is not the way to go.

It’s the easy way out and it rarely ends well.

Summerland can learn from this example.

We elect our governments to make decisions.

There will always be criticism of decisions made and those that will seek to mount opposition.

It is an unavoidable reality and should be embraced.

Punishing opponents to satisfy ego should never be an option.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.