A 3 minute read on Memes

Jay DiLisio and Heather at the Senior Spectacular, a fun and educational event put on by Betty Poirier for area senior citizens

By definition bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior and is the activity of repeated behavior intended to hurt another individual physically, mentally, or emotionally. We talk to our kids about it. Our schools educate our students about it. We defend our friends from it. We as adults no longer tolerate it. Or do we?

Over the past few local and state election cycles we have all seen some terrible things posted on social media. We whisper about them. We share them with friends, and secretly pray we are never the subject of one of them. Today, I’ve had enough. I’m standing up, not only for myself, but for current and future candidates.

It’s fair to acknowledge that there are a few individuals commenting on local social media. They are “run of the mill” bullies. Certain individuals like to push everyone around (as well as their agendas) and do it non stop. People who agree with their views are not safe from these keyboard warriors. People who dare disagree, are even less safe. Lately, screenshot images from my personal Facebook page, my campaign page and Attleboro Farmers Market page have been used and words have been superimposed over my image. The commentary represents flat out falsehoods and are so very wrong. It’s intent is to intimidate. It’s spreading false information. It’s meant to damage.. I am the target, but it hurts my family and friends much more. As a byproduct, it hurts the City of Attleboro as well. This “go to” behavior has been and continues to be directed at many candidates running for office with a strong emphasis against females. It’s simply uncalled for. It’s reason enough for all of us to understand why residents refuse to run for local office.

Local elections are nonpartisan and shouldn’t reflect or adopt the behaviors of national politics. Local elections are about the person and our City. Candidates are our neighbors and friends we should treat them as such.  Those individuals (and their families) are brave to step up, work hard and sacrifice time for the betterment of Attleboro.

What THEY don’t know, and what I’m about to share with you is kinda great. People have been reaching out with kind words and yes, angry ones too.  The comments and posts are making people take a step back and recognize these tactics are wrong. This has given me the chance to look at things differently and try to find the positive, an opportunity to look past hurtful words and focus on the actual picture. As a result I am fondly remembering the days they were taken. It’s the actual story behind the pictures I would like to share with you today.

One was taken during a very successful fundraiser for one of Attleboro’s food pantries at Attleboro Farmers Market. We raised enough money to provide nearly $30,000 worth of buying power at the Greater Boston Food Bank. That picture hangs proudly in my home.

Another was the very first headshot taken by the Sun Chronicle when I was a newly elected At Large Councilor. Looking at that picture now it is so apparent how green I was to the expectations of the position and the enormous responsibility it holds. Today, I have been reflecting on how much I’ve learned, and how much more there is to learn. Thankfully, the relationships that have been forged will continue to provide the knowledge necessary to lead.  This has ignited a fresh surge of gratitude and determination for the opportunity to continue to serve our community.

And lastly,  an image was taken from the video of my announcement to run for Mayor.  I opened my home and showed you all where I come from. I sat at the foundation and base of everything I do, my family’s kitchen table. Perhaps our table is similar to yours. It’s a place where manners are taught, stories are shared, problems are solved and decisions are made. It’s the center for celebrations and laughter, and sometimes tears and sadness. It’s where we prioritize needs and plan for futures. It’s where we come together to discuss truths and review mistakes. Sometimes it’s where we argue, which then turns into the place where we say sorry and are granted second chances. It’s where we pray and ask for and receive forgiveness. It’s where many individuals gather and become one. It is where we respect each other. There is always room at our table.

I welcome learning from all points of view and from constructive criticism. I have made mistakes, however, this is how I learn. Acknowledging mistakes give us the ability to build better relationships and have better understanding of one another. When we disagree, which is likely, I will suggest that we meet and discuss our points of view, not wage war behind a keyboard.

They won’t stop doing this. I suspect there will be negative comments. They will mock and pick apart these words. They will search for an angle to divide and intimated. Collectively we need to make the choice to ignore them and shut out the hateful and false noise. I won’t block them. They don’t scare me. I hope that we can all agree to be respectful and kind. This is what our community deserves. #nicematters