Let’s don’t hate each other over… a waterslide

Herald editor James Miller

Herald editor James Miller

Ebony and ivory

Live together in perfect harmony

Side by side on my piano keyboard

Oh lord why don’t we?

—Paul McCartney, 1981

Forgive us for starting an editorial by referencing a cheesy pop song but Sir Paul’s simplistic, optimistic message from three decades ago could be used as a reminder for much of the community divide we witnessed at Monday night’s Yes/No Waterslide rallies.

Many oldtimers have never seen anything like it — certainly not here in Penticton. Crowd estimates range from 500 to 2,000, depending on who you asked, and there was a lot of passion for an issue which involves removing 25 per cent of Skaha Lake Park land for a commercial water park venture.

For an event that didn’t offer free food, it was an amazing turnout especially in the summertime when there’s so much else going on.

“Save our green space for generations to come!”

“Make Penticton an exciting and vibrant place for young people and families.”

We even heard choruses of This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. (Hey crowd, do you take requests? How about Big Yellow Taxi?)

Peaceful, community involvement. There were no arrests, no fights, no pepper spray. It’s a good thing.

Citizens having an opinion on what they believe is best for the city (and not the individual), again, a good thing.

It’s sad to see such a divide. Some people are resorting to personal attacks towards one another for no other reason than having an opposite opinion.

Most good debates have pros and cons.

Some are resorting to questioning the credibility of other citizens. Over what, a waterslide?

How bad has the divide become? Many have “unfriended” others on Facebook over the waterslide issue.

This is becoming serious.

We can learn a lesson from George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. The two former

political rivals are now quite good friends after the two lent their star power as

co-chairs of a humanitarian cause. They learned they share a lot in common — political beliefs being one of the exceptions.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell and magazine publisher Larry Flint didn’t mind one

another. They  had a silent respect for the other’s passion and ideas, even though they were totally opposite.

Cut to this week’s shark attack in Australia when a rival surfer risked his own life by jumping into the ocean in an effort to help save his fellow competitor. The two men’s embrace brought tears to everyone’s eyes around the globe.

It’s OK to be critical of a person’s ideas, but not the person.

—James Miller is managing editor of The Herald.