Choose kindness, ignore gossip


There are lots of things about living in the wonderful Waitaki that contribute towards our goal of being the best place to live.

Some things that contribute to this goal are led by the Waitaki District Council, such as our amazing facilities, great infrastructure and wonderful customer service to our ratepayers.

But there are other aspects that contribute to making Waitaki the best place to live which all of us living here are responsible for.

Our communities are filled with amazing people. Even in the midst of another lockdown, we can all feel pretty lucky to live in such a polite and caring community – the most caring, helpful, and friendly bunch of people you can find!

But every now and then, some of us just aren’t as kind as we could be.

Remember that whispers game, where you experiment by secretly sharing a statement around a group? How significantly that message changes from the start point to the end point but how the receiver at the end point is adamant they received the message clearly?

Life while in public office has been a lot like that for me. Whether that’s with my personal life or with things happening at the council, it all seems to hold true.

When whispers evolve around council ideas and plans, they can put a premature stop on any further progress, and the real ideas and reasons behind the idea aren’t ever known, even when the basis of that idea or plan had a lot of merit.

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than reading on social media the whispers surrounding council proposals.

There is always a lot more to every situation than those opinions that are being touted by the loud few, and there are always two sides to every story, but opinions are often formed on the basis of just one.

Perhaps if more of us kept our social media comments to fact, rather than fiction, we would contribute to an overall more positive Waitaki, in which kindness can flourish.

Share your love of our town, your thoughts and ideas. Ask the big questions. Raise your concerns. And of course we are all allowed to get angry.

Just use your anger wisely to get your opinion across.

And remember, we live in a democratic society be others who have a different opinion to you. Just because you may choose to voice your opinion louder, it doesn’t necessarily make it any more right or more viable than another opinion.

There are some huge topics being forced upon us all right now.

We represent a small part of the team of 5 million, but small numbers can do big things if they direct their frustrations the right way, to the right people.

If you really do love our town and district, then help it become a better place. The best place.

Sharing of unsubstantiated information can, of course, help gain traction in a crusade to achieve a goal. But if we can try to consider the source and potential reason behind the information that’s being shared, we can often make an educated guess as to whether the whisper is fact or fiction.

But all too often often it’s a case of not wanting the truth to get in the way of a good story.

In my vast experience in this field, a rumour always says a lot more to me about the people sharing the whispers than the details shared in the whisper itself.

Sharing misinformation has become so rampant, nobody knows who to believe anymore.

As a community, we need to become kinder humans. Many of us say we are, but our actions speak a lot louder than words.

It’s very easy to negatively judge in a situation based on whether the misinformation received suits what we want to believe.

But is that really fair?

Perhaps try to look at it from another viewpoint, so your judgement isn’t so clouded. Misinformation has a very negative effect on our relationships within our communities, so why would you rush to believe something without seeking out the facts first?

The stronger our communities, the better our ability to achieve all of the big stuff we have planned.

If we all really do want to make Waitaki the best place to live, then real kindness in our community is a huge part of us all working together to get there.

If you ever have a choice, wonderful people of Waitaki, please always choose to be kind.

Let’s all play our own small part in trying to make our wonderful Waitaki the best place to live for everyone.

Kelli Williams is a Waitaki district councillor for the Oamaru ward