Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Not playing with fire 4-1-09 column

As many readers and village residents are aware, the village of Mahomet board of trustees are currently in the process of deciding whether or not they should ban burning in the village and up to a certain distance outside its limits.

As expected, residents may find themselves in one of two places: For the idea, or against it. However, there is more to holding an opinion about a controversial subject than sharing an opinion for the sake of doing so.

Instead, we should be well informed regarding the issue we are proponents or opponents of and should intend our opinions to depict as much.

That doesn’t mean we have to waver in our support, but it does mean that instead of saying “I think it’s a terrible idea,” or “I think it’s a great idea,” we go a little further and explain why. Why is it a bad idea? Why is it a good idea? And more importantly, what supports your opinion?

Additionally, it might also serve us best as a community to engage in civil discourse of the issue instead of simply agreeing to disagree.

Instead of simply telling our neighbors why their opinions are wrong, perhaps we should instead be considering what is affecting their opinions in the first place.

Perhaps there is a family member that has a health problem that is affected by smoke. Or, conversely, perhaps your neighbor is concerned with preserving freedoms of property owners in the village and outside of it. Either way, creating a healthy discourse may do more for building discussions and showing that we are a progressive community than taking sides ever could.

At the end of the day, there will always be those for and against the issue, just like there would be with any issue, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we are neighbors, friends, coworkers and community works who are all looking out for what’s best for our community.

1 comment:

  1. I sympathize with your feel-good approach on this, but this is not an issue like many other issues. This is a public health issue. Leaf burning is objectively unhealthy. This is not an issue like taxes or libraries where people can go back and forth on and everything is okay. This is the health of our village we're talking about, and it's naïve to suggest that we can all just get along on this.

    Those for burning assert that they have some right to continue doing so even at the expense of the health of their neighbors. There is no safe burning just as there is no safe cigarette or safe syringe loaded with meth.

    I'm not calling for an end to civility, we still need to be able to live with one another when this is all over with, but we cannot accept this as just another political issue. People are suffering as a result of leaf burning, and the moment we forget that is the moment we err.

    We have posted an online petition for those opposed to leaf burning, and we will continue to struggle for the health and well-being of our families. Freedom ends when it starts making my baby choke on leaf smoke.