Addressing the City Council

“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other ...

“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” Sir Francis Bacon Sr.

Over recent months, I’ve attended every City of Menifee City Council Meeting held at City Hall. During my observance, I have been struck time and time again by the lack of decorum. Not of our City Council Members, all of who serve with dignity and tolerance, but of our citizens addressing the Council. While my shock does not apply to all who have taken the podium, I never cease to be amazed by the rudeness and hostility displayed by many of our Menifee residents. Left in a state of disgust and dismay, I find myself asking, “Why?”

Why would anyone address an elected official, often being half-informed, and hurl insults and innuendos? Why would anyone place themselves in a position of attention and express to everyone in the audience just how narrow-minded and malicious they are? Why would any citizen address any governing body with nothing more than a line from a newspaper article (mind you, not even with the entire context of the article having been read!) and cry foul over something that they don’t even understand?

I’m not speaking of expressing opinions. I realize the importance of such as I am doing just that here and now by writing this article. As a citizen of this great country, I am blessed to have the opportunity to stand on my soapbox and share my vast array of opinions with whoever stops to listen. But in doing so, I realize there is a delicate balance between spewing my opinions and sharing rational thoughts. Emotionally charged accusations may be the way to grandstand and grab attention, but are the audience members really listening? The words coming out of the mouth express one belief to the listeners, but the manner in which is it said expresses even more. My entire life has been spent trying to live by these words:

“Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house... let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta

That being said, I am still left to ponder as to why these opinionated citizens cannot find the ability within themselves to approach the City Council with dignity, honor, and respect. Lack of respect for others only exhibits a lack of respect for oneself.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” Plato

As a long time Menifee resident, I find it highly disrespectful and vulgar to watch the parade of attention-seekers grab the microphone at the podium to spew hatred to my elected council, many simply for their own purposes. I do not believe for one moment that many of these individuals speak out on behalf of anyone but themselves, or a tiny, uninformed minority.

There should be room in everyone’s heart for grace and tolerance. Sharing informed, intelligent ideas and educated opinions are what made this country great from its inception. But it seems we must wade through the muck and mire of ignorance and hatred to chance upon a ray of hope. Where witlessness and rudeness abound, there opens the door for love and tolerance. It seems that I need to make room in my heart to suffer these individuals of which I speak, and understand their limitations.

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