Right in the centre - Get at it young people


By Ken Waddell

The Banner

With the election slates now set in every Manitoba community, it’s a good time for reflection on where communities are at in their march toward the future. One community stands head and shoulders above the rest in their anticipation of what the future holds. Virden, like many other communities, has acclaimed their town council, even the mayor’s position. But what they have done differently is acclaim three young councillors who, in the words of  Virden Mayor Jeff McConnell, “are all under the age of 30.” Given that there are three other councillors and a mayor that likely makes their average age about 45. In contrast, western Manitoba’s largest town, Neepawa, while having a race for mayor have decided to acclaim all their council into place. The big difference is that the average age of the Neepawa council will be about 60.

That 15 year gap speaks volumes. In many communities, the 30-year-olds and younger are simply not stepping up into council work or community committee volunteerism. It’s not that they wouldn’t be welcome. It’s not that they haven’t been asked. In many communities, it’s not that they don’t exist. It’s as if they are invisible. The excuses abound from “I have never done this before” to “I have to run my kids to hockey and soccer.” Or the real classic excuse, “But I have to work.”

These excuses don’t cut it. Every person who has ever sat on a committee or stood for election has powered their way through all those excuses.  Everybody has “Never done this before” until the first time they sit on a committee, a board or a council. Just about everyone has raised kids, and sometimes it’s been fairly large families, as well as doing their community duty. And, it’s rare if not non-existent, to see a person in community service who hasn’t also had a full time job or run a business.

Communities can stumble along with only old people on the committees and councils. Stumble along that is, until they run out of old people. And they will run out as the succeeding generations that have “Never done this before” come of senior age and because they have “Never done this before” aren’t able to do it when they come of age, old age that is.

Here’s a simply mathematical perspective. The 70 year-olds have another 10 to 15 years to pay taxes and to benefit from what the community has to offer. If a community screws up or withers and dies, it won’t mean a lot to the ancient ones. After you die, it doesn’t matter how your tax dollars are spent. It doesn’t matter what your house values are in the decades to come. It doesn’t matter what potential is missed. But, if you are 30, you have 55 years years to benefit or to suffer from the decisions that are being made today.

The simple harsh message to  young people is that the future is yours, it doesn’t belong to the 70-year-olds and the 80-year-olds. It belongs to the 30, the 40 and the 50 year-olds.

The simple message is this. If you are young and involved in your community, the community thanks you, you will be blessed for it. If you are not, then get off your ass and get involved. The future is yours to lose.