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Opinion —Rally planner invites open minds

If the correct information coming from the government isn't what you want to hear — or worse yet, isn't correct in your opinion — where do you go?

Governments are the ruling body in a democratic world. We rely on them to feed us, sometimes literally, but mostly feed us the information, programming, services and assistance we need to run our lives. But what happens when the information is questioned? When another angle or dynamic of the information perhaps isn't being highlighted? Where do you turn when your beliefs don't align with the ruling body?

Facebook. Right. Got it in one.

It's where where the disheartened, disapproving and dismayed can voice their thoughts... and find others to wallow with.

The interaction produce little in the way of thoughtful discussion. In one example, a site lovingly welcomes only those sharing a certain way of thinking. They approve and encourage like-minded participant who are constantly encouraged by what they see in the virtual mirror. In another virtual room a few pixels down the holographic hallway, people with the polar opposite point of view are doing the same thing.

What happens when both groups try to express themselves in a shared room? If you like results, then move along.

The often angry, misunderstood and defensive comments can easily and quickly incite emotions. The willingness to fight will quickly overshadow the initial concerns, which are left behind in a haze of spiteful and intentionally hurtful attacks.

When was the last time you dared peek at a social media page purporting to be 'open' or 'honest' and saw a poster writing, "...hmm, that idea makes sense. I didn't agree at first, but you've helped me see another side to the issue."


Others will only go to watch what is essentially a virtual car-crash.

That's why a half hour chat last Friday with Benita Pedersen, the organizer of an upcoming 'freedom' rally in Lac La Biche was refreshing. 

The Westlock-based promoter is the name behind the All Fired Up For Freedom website and its Alberta-born 'power-to-the-people' movement that has brought several community rallies to the Lakeland, including a recent one in Bonnyville and a Lac La Biche one coming up on Friday, April 16.

She's not a big fan of the government, is a big believer in the freedom to choose (to not wear a mask, to pass on getting a vaccine, to not believe the government ...) and still has a soft spot for open and honest discussion. Open and honest. Right. The alarms were ready to go off during the interview ... but they didn't.

Us, the mainstream media (MSM) and she, the freedom-loving, rule-questioning rally organizer (FLRQRO) had something in common... information.

As a media outlet, information is our currency. Facts, comments, viewpoints, the more diverse the better. We take it all in and let the reader decide. As long as that reader is willing to be open-minded, the transaction works well.

Pedersen wants to show others the information she and her like-minded friends have about current issues. But she's not going to force it on people. (She actually said exactly that in the interview.) She just hopes people will mull it over, add it to their own ideas and at least realize there are differing opinions and viewpoints.

"In general, I don't force anyone to accept what I present," said Pedersen, who spent 20 years in the education field, is a DJ, karaoke hostess and professional presenter. "All I ask is that they listen to it, consider it, process it and then make the decisions that are right for them."

Pedersen says she's not organizing an angry Facebook page. She hopes to draw interest from a wide range of people who will be open to debate and discussion about the pandemic measures as well as the government's involvement.

Sure, the Lac La Biche event — the Freedomfighters' Enough is Enough Rally —  has all the words in its action-based title to project images of a bull-horn blaring, anti-government chanting rally, but like Pedersen says about a lot of the words used by government officials .... don't let them fool you. The rallies are not intended to be one-sided events. 

Somewhere in the middle, she hopes, is where solutions can be found.

Friday's rally takes place at the Jubilee Hall parking lot from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Leave your laptop where it is and listen in person, if you want.