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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, August 20, 2022
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Speak Out, But Be Truthful and Respectful

Dear Source:
This is an open letter to the many concerned, passionate and engaged individual citizens of the Virgin Islands, often but not necessarily, supporters of the various advocacy groups that turn out for public meetings, write letters to the editor, phone in to the talk shows and discuss the subject of their concerns on the street. It is essential to the strength of our society in general, and our community as a whole, that you continue to exercise your right to speak your mind, bring information and knowledge to your fellow citizens and that you not rest until you feel your voices have been heard.
That having been said, please remember, one of the very best aspects of life in the Virgin Islands, and an underpinning of our harmonious social interaction here, is respect for those around us. It sometimes happens, in our burning desire to register our opinions or to get our points across, that we cross the boundaries of civil discourse. We wander into areas where harsh personal attacks are launched, very often without any substantiation whatsoever. We lash out at public agencies and officials with barbs and scornful remarks and claims of legal improprieties. We don't hold back, whether or not there is any factual basis for our remarks. I'm sure that some people will laugh out loud when they see this cynic's name at the bottom of this message. I regret that I've probably been more prone than most to uttering these types of disparaging remarks. But I'm determined to resist them.
A very recent conversation with one of our elected officials brought home how years of dedication and sacrifice can be cast aside when an uninformed individual with malicious intent publicly and unfairly demeans a public servant. It was made very clear to me that the injustice and hurt of unfounded and unthinking statements leaves a mark. Most often those public officials are performing their duties to the best of their ability and doing their best with the resources at their disposal. At a recent public meeting an earnest young man stood up and let the accusations and innuendo fly like scattershot with absolutely no regard for the effect it would have on those unfairly smeared. Please, think and resist before launching into baseless, cruel and thoughtless statements. Remember that these folks are human, just like you. From the clerk at the Motor Vehicle Bureau or the VIPA parking lot, to the staff member in an office of a regulatory agency, to those who serve as a public service on our boards and commissions, to the Governor of the Territory, remember when you launch into personal remarks that they're human, just like you.
If you actually know of any illegal behavior, take it to the Inspector General's office. Otherwise, when you stand up in a public meeting, write a letter to the editor, call in to a talk show or discuss the subject of your concerns, leave aside the unfair and unfounded statements and state the facts you know to be true. It will go a lot farther in advancing your cause and the aims of your organization. Remember, if you want someone's respect you have to be prepared to give it.
Fraser Drummond
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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Dear Source:
This is an open letter to the many concerned, passionate and engaged individual citizens of the Virgin Islands, often but not necessarily, supporters of the various advocacy groups that turn out for public meetings, write letters to the editor, phone in to the talk shows and discuss the subject of their concerns on the street. It is essential to the strength of our society in general, and our community as a whole, that you continue to exercise your right to speak your mind, bring information and knowledge to your fellow citizens and that you not rest until you feel your voices have been heard.
That having been said, please remember, one of the very best aspects of life in the Virgin Islands, and an underpinning of our harmonious social interaction here, is respect for those around us. It sometimes happens, in our burning desire to register our opinions or to get our points across, that we cross the boundaries of civil discourse. We wander into areas where harsh personal attacks are launched, very often without any substantiation whatsoever. We lash out at public agencies and officials with barbs and scornful remarks and claims of legal improprieties. We don't hold back, whether or not there is any factual basis for our remarks. I'm sure that some people will laugh out loud when they see this cynic's name at the bottom of this message. I regret that I've probably been more prone than most to uttering these types of disparaging remarks. But I'm determined to resist them.
A very recent conversation with one of our elected officials brought home how years of dedication and sacrifice can be cast aside when an uninformed individual with malicious intent publicly and unfairly demeans a public servant. It was made very clear to me that the injustice and hurt of unfounded and unthinking statements leaves a mark. Most often those public officials are performing their duties to the best of their ability and doing their best with the resources at their disposal. At a recent public meeting an earnest young man stood up and let the accusations and innuendo fly like scattershot with absolutely no regard for the effect it would have on those unfairly smeared. Please, think and resist before launching into baseless, cruel and thoughtless statements. Remember that these folks are human, just like you. From the clerk at the Motor Vehicle Bureau or the VIPA parking lot, to the staff member in an office of a regulatory agency, to those who serve as a public service on our boards and commissions, to the Governor of the Territory, remember when you launch into personal remarks that they're human, just like you.
If you actually know of any illegal behavior, take it to the Inspector General's office. Otherwise, when you stand up in a public meeting, write a letter to the editor, call in to a talk show or discuss the subject of your concerns, leave aside the unfair and unfounded statements and state the facts you know to be true. It will go a lot farther in advancing your cause and the aims of your organization. Remember, if you want someone's respect you have to be prepared to give it.
Fraser Drummond
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.