We live a world of limited resources.
The trick of government is to use community resources, however defined, in order to have the best effect on the community, however defined.
In doing this, governments will make decisions that will mean closing the door on one thing in order to achieve another thing. These are trade-offs. They are essential to getting anything worthwhile done. Making decisions that result in trade-offs has been one of the big weaknesses of our government. We want to do everything, and thus risk failure at achieving much of anything.
It is the job of our leaders to make these decisions based on the available information, their skills at identifying options and costs, and each Member of Council’s own values, attitudes and beliefs.
In the Huu-ay-aht experience, our governments get elected based on the judgment of our community based on voters sense of individual quality, however defined.
This results in a government of people who might, and usually do, have different viewpoints on what needs to be done, and why it’s important. This was on-purpose. The best governments are the ones where nothing is taken for granted. There is a need for conflict, not between people, but between ideas. These ideas should be put forward and tested at the level of government as best its members can.
The hope, the theory, is that only the best ideas of the ones presented will survive to grow into plans and be carried out to the best of our abilities.
This is no guarantee that the idea, plan or follow-through will result in something that is efficient, effective or achieve the objective. Those things take good governance practices, discipline at the top levels and a skilled administration.
Disagreements will inevitably occur, but decisions needs to keep being made. This will result in some decisions that citizens and members of government won’t like. The truth of it all is that this is intentional, too. In any given scenario, there are many viable options in an objective sense. When you get subjective, the options are even wider.
As inefficient as democratic methods are, they are the best we have to do the job in an acceptable way. Every other method is either outside our capacity as human beings, or entirely unfair from much of any ethical perspective.
On Saturday, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations come together as a community to check-in with each other and talk about what’s been happening: decisions, actions, trade-offs and overall governance. The trick here is to understand that we all have different points of view, different values and different information. The trick to having a successful assembly is to understand that we’re better off trying to understand where we’re all at and providing realistic and respectful options for moving forward.
I will endeavour to remember these words, and I will endeavour to try to understand others’ points of view as long as they try to do the same.
I cannot guarantee that I will agree, but I can guarantee that I will listen to the best of my ability.
It is my hope that you strive to do the same.