Commentary – A few words of advice

Jeff Burgar

A few weeks ago, I was writing a story for the 50th anniversary of Slave Lake’s newspaper, the Lakeside Leader.
Editor Joe McWilliams had asked me for “maybe about 400 words.” In between editorial and opinion columns like this one, in winter months I try to crank out around another 600 words a day. The words are for that dang book I never even have dreams of finishing some year in the future. I just write my gibberings.
By the time I was done the first draft of Joe’s request, I was at 1,500 or so words. The finished copy came in about 1,600. Along the way, I actually left out some advice I learned over, coincidentally, 50 plus years of newspaper career.
It’s the same advice I have written before. I addressed a graduation class once with the same advice. And often, I remind myself it’s good advice that anybody can follow, including myself.
Basically, “Just because you might come from a small school, a small town, a small city, a small country, never ever think that anybody from a bigger place, no matter what, is automatically better than yourself. Your ideas, your thoughts, your beliefs, can be just as good as, and are often better, than somebody who thinks they are better than you. Just because they come from a bigger place than you, never ever think they are smarter, wiser, know more, or have better ideas than you. Never.”
All too often people in our small communities in northern Alberta are often looked down at. Probably all of us know, or have known, the big shot lawyer who is going to whup the local gal.
The big shot sales person from the city who is going to show us “how things are done.”
Professionals who sneer “I went to Big City College.” Or the far away person who inherited his money and tries to “lord” it over us peons.
The list of such is endless. The circumstances are endless.
Personally, I’ve been in many situations in which the argument “This guy is from Blah Big City, so you should listen to him,” is used.
Usually by people who fail at a basic task – thinking for themselves. I’ve made the mistake many times thinking a product made by a big company has to be better than a small company. I’ve had it rubbed in my face many times I just can’t know as much as the “expert” from that Blah Big City. Many of you out there have too.
I also watched years ago as ‘baby’ Microsoft chewed up IBM. ‘Junky’ Toyota spit out The Big Three.
And of course, today we hear how Google and Facebook just “have” to be so much better because, you know, they are so big!
Here in the North, we have more than our share of winning businesses and people. Think a moment and name many, many of them. Smart people. Wise people. Talented and creative people.
Our small communities are great places. Of course, we probably do raise our fair share of stupids.
Always remember, that absolutely does not mean all of us automatically are.

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