This issue in Melville, Saskatchewan – for me – isn’t about the Melville Millionaires, particularly, or their executive. It isn’t even about a particular family involved. It’s a bigger issue.

Once, when I was still living in Melville, an American friend asked me, “What do you call black people there?” I laughed, and said “Either the family doctor or the doctor’s family.”

Because let’s not lie folks, those were the only people with more pigment in their skin than anyone else around.  I see that changing now when I come home to Melville and I’m super glad for it. Time has not stopped, and a bubble has not been created around the community.

A great friend of mine politely suggested that my thinking on the transgender issue involving the Melville Millionaires might be one-sided, based on the Facebook posts I had shared and comments I had made. She made her point by showing me the other side of the story. She’s concerned about the effects on the community, and that good people, either way, may be demonized. I know she’s not the only one concerned. I appreciate that and it made me think of a few things that I think really need to be said.

– No one knows both sides of the story. NO ONE. Not in  a way that anyone can say, “I know the whole truth.” Even the people who were there…they don’t know the experience from the perspective of the other.
– Melville has historically been a pretty exclusively similar place. That’s made it hard for many people who come from Melville who have been seen as “different.” We know the people who really feel like they need to be themselves – if they are seen as different, well, they just leave the community. Feel free to challenge me on that and I’ll return back to you with a list of names in five seconds flat.
– Human nature is to make assumptions and fill in the blanks. There are probably a lot of people in the community who aren’t acknowledging that they don’t know what they don’t know.
– Much as it might seem not to be true sometimes, it’s also human nature to try not to ruffle any feathers– the problem with that is that it inhibits discussion, and it’s only through discussion that we really learn the point of view of anyone else.
– And then, maybe most important, discussion becomes hard because we have trouble admitting that we don’t know what we don’t know.

There are two sides to the story and vast differences to each of them. The reason the differences matter is because the differences minimize each side of the story. They minimize each persons perception, and each person’s feelings.

The way you define a problem leads to the solution. I encourage the community to redefine the problem. Right now it seems to be:

“The millionaire organization has crossed the line on a human rights issue.”
or else
“The family involved is over-reacting or lying about people.”

The fact is, no one in the community controls any of that. It will play out the way it plays out. If the family has a case, or wants to issue a challenge, they will. If the organization has or hasn’t overstepped – that may or may not come out. What I know most of all is that the community doesn’t control it.

If you want to properly support the family, and the community, OR the organization and the community, you redefine this problem, I suggest the best problem definition is something like:

“We haven’t been the greatest in Melville at education regarding differences, or tolerance.”

And the community moves ahead from there. You see – a new problem definition provides a whole host of options, and most of all, opportunities.

Be careful, community of Melville, not to get caught up in thinking little about this issue. It’s a bigger issue than just Melville, and steps taken here will guide other communities and organizations into the future.

THERE IS A TEAM OF PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY WORKING TOWARDS MAKING THIS CHANGE. Want to get involved? Give me your name, and I’ll pass it on.

Also – if you really want to do something fun, check out this project from our sister site, The Moment of Kindness Foundation. It’s called #pick2kids and encourages a small bit of mentoring to make an impact on issues like racism and homophobia.