We the people vs. the public service

Dear Editor,

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” — Abraham Lincoln

The time is now, more than ever to no longer be silent. While many of our countrymen have been the economic victims of the pandemic, in our midst there is another group of countrymen who have not felt one iota of its dreadful tentacles.

Our public service.

We do not begrudge them. It should do our hearts good that many have been spared the wrath of COVID financially. However, with that “privilege” should come a sense of responsibility — a sense that now more than any other time, is the time to step up to the plate.

There are many who seek to help where they can with what resources are available to them. That is our obligation to our fellow man. Hence that which we expect of our public servants is service. That is their resource. That is their obligation.

This message, my fellow citizens in the civil service, is not about corruption. It is not about merit. It is not even about competence. No, it is about rising to the occasion. To do that which is possible to aid us in getting through this upheaval. To come out of hibernation and to abandon sloth, even if it is only temporary, in the way that with urgency and immediacy, we come to each other’s aid in the aftermath of a hurricane.

I can no longer be silent for my own benefit and self-preservation.

For the past 25 years and under successive governments, I have survived the mental anguish of dealing with the public service.

Truth be told, and we all can acknowledge this, it has not mattered who is in power. The “power” rests in the not-so-hallowed halls of the public service. And we all fear them. We fear them because if we “mash any corns” we will be punished.

That punishment can range from having to make six trips to get a certificate, to files disappearing, to not making the agenda for a hearing, to being driven to tears as we watch dreams be vanquished by process and even as extreme as waiting 30 years to have Crown land grants settled.

The examples are many and they are dastardly in the way they impact lives. More recently, I have witnessed process hold back much-needed economic activity for no valid reason other than process.

Lets us not focus on why. Let us not belittle. Let us not defame. Let us simply put a stop to it all. A great part of that must be what WE THE PEOPLE do or rather won’t do. We won’t, and cannot any longer, put up with it. It is not funny. It is not cultural; it is UNACCEPTABLE.

The spotlight of accountability must be applied. It will not hinder the service you are entitled to; it will accelerate it.

We certainly do not hesitate to hold politicians accountable (and we should continue to), but let us also hold accountable all who are responsible for getting OUR business done. They can no longer be allowed to remain invisible.

WE do not have to be rude. WE do not have to be loud. WE do not have to be profane. WE simply must no longer tolerate that which is unacceptable service. WE have the power of the spotlight of accountability.

Finally, I do not have to apply the oft-used political caveat about who is doing a good job. Those that are the exception are aware of who they are, and more importantly they know who among their colleagues do not meet the mark. They are equally frustrated by it all.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

Ed Fields

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