In two very different forums, gatherings were held this week in a bid to shape Lithgow’s future.
The Lithgow Mercury could not help but be struck by the difference on show between the two events, their tone, and the effect on our community.
At the first, held on Sunday, Sydney-based groups spewed hate speech at each other while, only 20m away, children played in our public parks.
The argument was made by the organisers of the Party For Freedom’s anti-Islam rally that they could not use closed venues for fear of being invaded by Antifa activists.
However, having made the choice to hold a rally in public within sight and sound of a children’s playground, it is the responsibility of those hosting the meeting to ensure it maintains a tone that’s appropriate.
It is not the fault of the Party For Freedom group that their Antifa opponents, who turned up to disrupt the rally, yelled and shouted obscenities. They are responsible for their own actions.
But the group needs to take responsibility for their actions in 1) returning fire with foul language and abuse of their own and 2) allowing the language to be used over the megaphone during the speeches that were part of the rally itself.
It certainly did not do anything for Lithgow or for the comfort or wellbeing of the people there to enjoy that public space that day.
On Wednesday night we saw impassioned people, speaking from their hearts, for the good of the community. They have plans for the $1.7m State Government community grants that have been allocated to Lithgow and spoke at a special meeting of council.
They spoke powerfully and knowledgeably on subjects that have been close to their heart for decades in some cases in the full knowledge that they will not all get what they want. When it comes to creating visions for the future, there is little doubt which was more moving.
NOTE ON PHOTOGRAPH:
Paul Ledger emailed the Mercury with this photograph, taken on Sunday: “I thought your paper and readers may be interested in the attached which I photographed last Sunday on my way down to Little Hartley. It was displayed on a power pole located on the southern side of the GWH just east of the new road works before the Seymour Whyte compound. I must say the sign feels apropos to the situation.”