In the last week I have been asked 3 times if I am just being a NIMBY - at first I was amused and brushed it off. But the lasting impression is I am aggrieved by that label!
After a lot of thinking, I have concluded that it is a cheap throw-away line from the inarticulate who are incapable of putting forward a rational argument. It’s an easy jab at people who are standing up and speaking out for their rights.
Who is going to protect my backyard, if I don’t, when I see something is wrong?
NIMBY name-calling seeks to intimidate and silence people. The term NIMBY “Not In My Back Yard" - is often used to criticize people who oppose development in their community. It labels people as selfish individuals, hypocrites who want the benefits of modern society without paying any cost. As a community aren't our values important? Why should we sit back and just accept whatever is presented to us, accepting it as just progress or growth? Many times it is more a Not-In-ANY-Backyard argument - but labellers rarely think altruistically.
Consider for a moment of what makes us feel good, what makes us enjoy our life, feel part of a community, love where we live, feel connected and happy. Whatever it is - it’s called lifestyle! I think that is worth fighting for. Labelling someone as a NIMBY attempts to shut down the conversation that we should having about the things we value.
True democracy requires an open discussion; it should encourage questions and initiate debate. We have the right to protect and defend the things we care about and it’s our constitutional right to stand up for it and our right to freedom of speech to speak out!
In a democracy, governments exist to serve the needs of people - and those needs should not only be economic ones. Is it so much more important that a developer makes a massive profit than a resident maintains a lifestyle? Why do we have to simply accept that as progress and growth? Why can’t we challenge that argument? Not everything about ‘progress’ is worth embracing.
From what I have seen it’s the people who are labelled NIMBYs who are the ones pursuing political and environmental justice. These are the people who empower and engage communities and help refocus the debate to remind those in power of the broader issues, allowing for a more considered, sustainable and thoughtful decision.
In fact, it is defeatist to not stand up!
Most people they are not interested in fighting just for the sake of fighting. Most want to preserve what is good about their community area, street or backyard. Thankfully there are people who are willing to fight for solutions that enrich our lives and increase our collective prosperity.
Labelling someone as a NIMBY is really akin to McCarthyism (those who make unfair allegations especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism).
What these oppressive accusers would rather have, and in fact what they really are, is a WAIF - Weak Apathetic Inarticulate Followers. WAIFs lurch through life without a true comprehension of what is going on around them, and even when they do see a problem, they feel powerless and inadequate to exercise their democratic rights.
I would rather be a NIMBY than a WAIF!
Vicki Redden / Craig Dermer
A waif (from the Old French guaif, "stray beast") is a living creature removed, by hardship, loss or other helpless circumstance, from its original surroundings. Wikipedia.