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Sex toys and referendums and school closures, oh my!

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
October 27th, 2010

 So, today I’m posting a story about sex toys as adult stocking stuffers, and I know I’m going to get a lot of grief over it.

First, let me suggest to those who are up-in-arms and furious – get some perspective, would you please? There’s lots in life worth being angry over … school closures or the whittling away of our local hospital services, perhaps. If the worst, most infuriating thing happening in your life is me penning an article that made you blush, then I’d strongly recommend falling to your knees and sending up a prayer of gratitude for what I have to believe must be a very easy and uncomplicated life.
 
I’ve often wondered why people get so outraged over some of my coverage, and not over other stuff … when I was reporting in Airdrie, I broke the story that a teen-prostitution-recruitment ring was at work in the city. It was huge news, splashed all over the front page and middle spread, and we were flooded with …wait for it …not a single response.
 
Not one phone call, not one email, not one letter to the editor.
 
Nothing.
 
The same week, we ran an eight-graph short about a proposed cat bylaw, and we were inundated with more than a dozen responses from distraught community members. I was flabbergasted, as was my editor at the time.
 
We agreed the response couldn’t possibly reflect the values of the community, and came to the conclusion that people were responding, not to what mattered most to them, but rather to that which they felt equal to dealing with. No one knew how to react to the prostitution ring, it was too big and scary, so they didn’t react at all … whereas the cat bylaw, by virtue of being so much less important, was also less intimidating, which made responding easy.
 
It’s not hard to feel overwhelmed by the larger issues of the day – how to combat the seemingly nonsensical arguments put forth by Interior Health for concentrating all their resources in Trail while leaving Castlegar in the lurch, for example. Greater minds than ours have been flummoxed by that double speak, I assure you.
 
Or the dilemma of the school district – we don’t like their solutions, but if we can’t offer any solutions of our own, dare we speak at all?
 
It’s easier, perhaps, to focus your ire on me, and my hedonistic ways (for the record, I’m a recovering Catholic myself and blushed aplenty when writing the sex-toy story, if that eases your mind at all). I know I’ll get emails and probably a phone call or two, calling me out for being inappropriate, not to mention disrespectful of Christmas and its religious significance.
 
But I think those responses are the mark of people who have fallen into an all-too-common trap – one to which I’ve fallen prey, myself. It’s the tyranny of the manageable over the truly important.
 
I remember, last year, being worried sick about my son. I thought he might have a learning disability, which I found both frightening and overwhelming; I was concerned about if and how much he might be exposed to the thriving drug trade here in town; I wasn’t 100-per-cent sure I approved of a couple of the kids with whom he’d been chumming. Not knowing how to manage those issues, I avoided them for awhile …then totally blew a gasket when he forgot to feed the dog.
 
Was that reflective of my values as a parent? Of course not – I may be cavalier about some things, but I’m not a total moron. It was simply the one thing, in a long laundry list of worries, over which I felt I had some control. It was the one thing I knew how to manage…so it got pride of place in my reactions, despite being at the very bottom of my priority list.
 
I see it all the time in other parents, too …riding their kid about a haircut they don’t like while ignoring the same child’s active sex life, for example, or landing with both feet over the unclean bedroom of a child who is flunking out of school.
 
We each have to figure out if and when we’re sacrificing the critical at the altar of the easy, and nip it in the bud when we can …but how do we do that as a community?
 
I’d say Castlegar got a fairly good start last week, with as many as 300 people showing up to protest IH’s plan to take away our ultrasound machine. And it worked, for the time being at least – the machine is still here.
 
Which is, I think, probably the answer – in a community, as in parenting, showing up  is nine-tenths of the solution. Participation offers most of the rest, and collaboration brings it all home.
 
This city is facing some serious issues, of which the ultrasound is but one. We have a $25-million referendum coming up Nov. 6; we stand to lose a quarter-million-dollars-a-year in education funding if Blueberry Community School is closed … the list goes on.
 
Yes, those issues are overwhelming, and most of us don’t have ready answers to solve them.
 
You can choose to ignore them and, instead, to write me an email outlining how I’m both a heretic and a bad influence … you can yell at your grocery store cashier … you can compain to your friends about a $2 increase in your water bill, or scream and swear at the guy who cut you off in traffic.
 
I’d suggest to you (and to myself … as I said, I’m a victim of this kind of thinking, too), though, that the better option is to stop being overwhelmed and intimidated by needing to have all the answers.
 
Just show up, instead.
 
Don’t worry about having the solution – just commit to being part of it.
 
Show up on Nov. 9 for the Save Our Schools meeting (7 p.m., Stanley Humphries) and offer your two cents – you may not have an over-arching solution, but your perspective may be the missing puzzle piece that allows others to find answers. If nothing else, your very presence sends a message to the decision-makers about what really is important to you (and I take leave to doubt that my news coverage even makes the list, much less tops it). Be part of the process, contribute what you can … and it’s amazing what good things follow, just as they did with our ultrasound machine.
 
Then, if you still want to write me an angry letter, have at.
 
I promise I’ll read it.

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