Saying and doing are not the same

It isn’t always easy to keep one’s word. Sometimes we make promises that are just impossible to fulfill, and then again sometimes we just quit and give up. That is what has happened too often in our nation’s and city’s history. I’m not just talking about the recent resignation of our councilwoman-at-large, there are others.

For instance, when President Obama ran for the presidency against Hillary Clinton back in 2008, he promised, “I will close GITMO.” He hasn’t. He also said, “I will end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.” The war ended, the country of Iraq is a mess and now we are sending more military support to where else, Iraq.

No, keeping one’s word is not always easy, and sometimes just walking away is the safest choice. In a book written by Robert H. Schuller, “Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do” Schuller speaks of how difficult it is to stick to one’s principles and their commitments to themselves and the others they may be responsible to. He tells of story after story when giving up and throwing in the towel seems like the right choice, but the ones who are truly committed to their word, their promises stand strong, keep the faith and stay the course. That, I believe, is what our leaders who quit too easily should do.

When we run our campaign on making positive changes to the city and its economic stability we should stick to our commitments. After all, we are only as good as our word, and our word should be our bond. Making promises has consequences the same way as breaking them does.

In one of my Sam and Friends Books, “Hannibal Breaks His Promise” the big yellow cat promises not to bring mice to the Barker’s clubhouse. Of course that is a promise that a cat just shouldn’t make because everyone knows cats are mousers by nature. Hannibal brings mice, the dogs ban him only to watch him dance away, licking his lips and singing, “I Love mice.” Kind of like Senator Mitch McConnell telling the Senate that their number one goal was to see that Obama wasn’t re-elected to a second term; he was re-elected. What about President Obama making his promises that were impossible to keep? He is now vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, walking the beaches, eating ice cream cones and smiling as he reminds everyone that “a president is never really on vacation,” even if Rome is burning.

Almost like a city council person delivering a promise to clean up the city and the way business is conducted while walking through city hall with a sledgehammer and an ax. Let me say that I don’t disagree with what she wanted to accomplish. I believe she has her heart in the right place, but sometimes it isn’t the message, or even the messenger, but the delivery that matters most. “Take this job and shove it” doesn’t always bode well in the long run. Sometimes we need to go along to get along and sometimes we need that spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

Politicians need to remember that the people elect them, but once they get into the office those people aren’t sitting around the boardroom table with them, and it helps if a little diplomacy and cooperation are present. According to Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” in order to be most effective, an individual’s circle of concern must be at least as big as their circle of influence. Before there can be diplomacy or cooperation, there must be the desire to communicate, and that means coming down from the perch on which too many elected officials set themselves upon and actually listening to their peers and even their partners in the decision-making processes.

When the President makes a promise, he needs to do so with full conviction and knowledge of his ability to carry out the promise. When a councilperson makes a promise, they need to do the same thing. Blaming the last administration, berating others or making snide remarks and childlike comments is not the answer. And this knife cuts both ways.

It is not just one or the other, but all who are in power to make things right for the citizens of the city, town, village or country. For one party to attack the other and make ridiculous claims such as suing the President, or turning to a colleague in anger with inappropriate comments of “why” does no one any good, least of all the people they were elected to serve.

If we don’t learn from history and recognize our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them, and I fear that unless our city officials don’t stop and look at what we have done, and continue to do, this small city on the shores of Lake Erie will continue to dissolve into a county, state, and federally subsidized community of unemployed welfare recipients.

We can’t afford to quit! We must listen. We must learn. We must remember from where we came and develop a plan to get us to where we need to be. We must wake up and work together to ensure economic growth for our community, our country and our future.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to