It’s that time again to take a step back and chew things over in my brain. A lot has been happening in LaVergne. A lot has been said about what is happening in LaVergne. Supportive words. Angry words. Misunderstood words. Words that cause harm. Words that encourage. And a lot of times, words written and spoken are based on speculation rather than fact.
Words can cause hurt. Words can build character. Formerly, words were just words. But in today’s society, words are more than just words. They really can cause harm – tangible, yet almost immeasurable. Why do words have a new power? According to the Free Encyclopedia of eCommerce,
Providing individuals with a nearly limitless reservoir of information just a mouse-click away, the power of the Internet for altering social life has been undisputed. The danger, however, is that left unchecked that power could produce extremely negative effects if the information that is shared and acted upon happens to be false, slanderous, malicious, or mere rumor. The old adage that “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on” was often cited as a summary of online misinformation, and in many cases the metaphor rang true, as strategically placed misinformation was established as truth by the time the affected parties were even made aware of it.
The anonymity of the Internet was a primary impetus to misinformation, since accountability is minimal comparable to print media, and being a vastly younger medium, the Internet has yet to produce clear mechanisms for making critical distinctions and methods for checking credibility. Legitimacy is often garnered by the simple measures of professional-looking Web page design and sophisticated graphics, which, while clearly a mark of know-how, were well within reach of virtually any Internet user. Since anyone with access can make a claim on the Internet without restraint, the potential for misinformation to be posted and spread is greatly expanded.
Here at This is LaVergne, we have been known to question city management. Our words have asked, for example, why are city employees not given annual performance appraisals? Why can’t we have a city swimming pool? We don’t like not being able to park on the streets and why can’t we park just on one side as a way to raise revenue via special permit parking? Make no mistake… we have certainly been a thorn in the city’s butt more than once. What made our words any different from other fringe groups? That answer is easy. We want to see our elected officials and the city thrive where others are hoping for failure.
A wise person said, “The angry person reacts in anger and causes others to be angry, and a cycle begins. My hope is that I’m able to be a person who ends such a cycle, a person who reacts to anger with love and understanding, because the angry people need that more than anything else. Reacting in anger is merely perpetuating these people’s belief that their anger is justified, but reacting in love may get them to question whether or not their anger is justified, effective, and/or helpful to them.”
In the past, we were accused of “hiding behind our computers.” Our words had an impact and we realized we didn’t want to be known as a group that had our fists clenched so tightly that we couldn’t think clearly. So we stepped up to help. We volunteered to serve on committees. We participated in community clean-up days. And we always asked, “How can we get more involved? What else can we do so that we really understand the full picture of what’s going on in this town?”
Getting involved in the community in a positive way will go far in making this a better place for everyone to live. It will also give you the chance to interact with various people who work for the city. It will allow you to talk with people in such a way that no one is fearful of saying the wrong thing because of your hidden agenda. It’s more than words. It’s action.
How do you get involved? You actively offer your services. Meals on Wheels needs volunteer drivers to deliver food for shut-ins. Box 100 needs help as they provide services that free up city workers to do their jobs. For example, police can continue to patrol and respond rather than parking as road blocks. Call your local schools to see if they need help. Call the library. Call the senior center. Call the Parks & Recreation Department. Volunteer at the animal shelter. Volunteer as a child advocate through CASA. Be a part of the LaVergne Garden Club. Volunteer with the Red Cross or United Way.
Before you dedicate too much of your life to belittling others, making snide remarks, casting false allegations or sharing only half the truth, think long and hard about what you are accomplishing. Remember anyone who angers you conquers you.