egocentric paradox

They’ve got egos like hairdos. They’re different everyday, depending on how they slept the night before.
– Ani DiFranco

Ani was singing about musicians, but she might as well have been talking about politicians.

I believe the vast majority of elected people got involved because they care about the people around them. They care about their communities and want to make them better places to live. They want to help people.

I hear that Jean Chrétien once replied, when asked what makes a successful politician, that it’s the one who wins. The problem is that some are trying so hard to appear effective and get credit — to win — that it ends up being more about the politician than the community.

As an elected person, to achieve a goal, it seems I have to do this bizarre dance of egos.

This past month, I had set up an opportunity for youth to share their thoughts and ideas with their representative to the OCP review process. But the councillor chairing the OCP task force has now commanded that I not get youth involved.

She doesn’t want any other councillors to be associated with the OCP review in any way, no matter how peripheral or indirect. Apparently I am “ruining the process” by encouraging school principals to get students to participate, and offering to host workshops on facilitating meetings and note-taking so that they can go out and meet with their peers just exactly like the adult groups will be doing. She was even upset that I sat in the audience to watch the task force meeting.

In attempting to discuss her concerns (the only reasons given were variations of “because I said so”) it became clear that she holds an intense feeling of ownership over the process. The worst part is that others seem willing to give up on what they agree is a good idea fully in keeping with Council’s intentions. Is one politician’s ego a great enough barrier that youth could be deprived of full and meaningful participation in setting the vision for their community?

I can’t think of a worse reason.

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