New Year Greeting From Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman

And the Mayor's 5-year report

“The other day I did something I swore off doing once I became Mayor. I honked at someone in traffic.

Now, it doesn’t pay to honk at people when you’re the Mayor. In my defense, this guy did swing across two lanes to cut me off, and I was not the only one there who chose to educate him about the failings of his driving with their horn. And as we all know, traffic on Mapleview Drive is enough to transform Happy Smurf into Darth Vader.

But it got me thinking about the Christmas season, and how in the lead up to it, there’s not a lot of Christmas spirit around. In fact, it seems distinctly lacking in the left-hand turn lane as I wait through a few cycles of the light. But, suddenly at some point on Christmas Eve, the spirit kicks in and just about everyone switches over to being a slightly better version of themselves. In the movie Scrooged, Bill Murray says about Christmas that “for a couple of hours, out of the whole year, we are the people we hoped we would be.”

Too often, that time runs out once you hit the first parking lot on Boxing Day—but what if we all managed to hold on to that a little longer. What if we managed to give each other a break, just a few more times?

That got me thinking about the advent of social media and the number of battles I see on Facebook or Twitter where people aren’t even interested in what someone else is saying. They’re just firing away on the keyboard, trying to score points or tear down the other guy. And the degree of judgmental myopia involved in putting someone down based on a photo they post online is breathtaking – but it happens all the time.

I have a fair bit of experience in being on the receiving end of that, and it is very difficult not to respond to the cheap shots (although it’s almost always a mistake to do so). For our kids especially, it’s also very difficult to ignore – which is why anti-bullying efforts are so important.

So back to the Christmas spirit—what if, just a few more times on social media this year, we decided to give someone a break. Click “delete” instead of “post” – or just leave it alone.

What if instead of honking at the guy in front in the Tim’s line, we paid for the one behind (which, by the way, is one of the truly hopeful social trends happening in the last few years)?

What if, instead of cutting across a few lanes of traffic to save half a second, we took our time?

What if, instead of judging someone based on what they’re wearing, we waited to see what they had to say?

Then, we’d be extending the Christmas spirit. So, for the New Year, let’s give each other a break now and again, and see how that makes the world just a little better in 2016.

From my family to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year.”

Mayor Jeff Lehman outlines the progress made as a City, on Council’s top priorities of smart growth, jobs, community safety and opening up City Hall.

And click here for Rock 95’s year-end interview with Mayor Lehman