Be respectful this election

Less than four months out from the election, the politicians are already in full swing, hawking their wares and shouting why they are the answer to the nation’s problems.

Cost of living crisis, escalating inflation, an education sector atan impasse, a healthcare system stretched beyond its limits, homelessness, the brain drain, crime spiralling out of control, unworkable regulations and bureaucratic red tape hamstringing development, farmers and growers — the list goes on.

Each of these issues facing our nation is massive on its own, and I am not going to pretend I know them in-depth or have the answers.

What I do know though, is each of these issues represent hurting people. Here in Central Otago and the Upper Clutha we are not immune.

The issues I mentioned above all impact our region — the upcoming election is your opportunity to have your say on which of these issues matter to you.

You may have noticed in the past few weeks there has been an uptick of politicians coming to the region.

There have also been visits from those who are not politicians but have very strong opinions — some of them controversial — who have jumped on the speaking circuit to share their views.

As I write this, one of those tours is set to to happen in Lowburn and Wa ¯naka this week. There will be a range of people who attend these meetings — those who support the views, those who disagree with them, those who are yet to form an opinion and want to hear for themselves about the issue, and members of the media present to report on the meeting fairly and accurately.

Each of those are valid reasons for people to attend.

Whatever your viewpoint, can I encourage you to be respectful in the way you engage others about your beliefs.

Shouting, name calling, and being abusive to people who do not agree with you, is not a way to get your point across — in fact it often drowns out the point you are trying to make.

As a journalist I will quite often get ‘‘shouty’’ emails in my inbox — what a delight.

To be honest, they will often go straight to the delete pile.

I understand the sender is passionate and the information they are sending is of vital importance to them, but yelling at me through my inbox first thing on a Monday morning is not going to make me sit up and pay attention.

Engaging in thoughtful discussion, asking and answering questions and being wiling to engage other viewpoints — that’s how you get your point across.

One of the beautiful things about New Zealand iswe are able to hold — and voice — opinions and beliefs different from others.

There are many, many people throughout the world who are denied this privilege. Let’s use ours wisely.