Whenever a controversial issue enters the news, one or two opinions on the subject eventually spread until — as the saying goes — everybody’s got one. Some people studiously research the facts to build their opinion on a solid foundation, but a large percentage of people expressing opinions are influenced only by other opinions they have heard.
Think of the issues that have repeatedly come up in Guam — the financial woes at Guam Memorial Hospital, the closure of the landfill and legalizing waste-to-energy, the location of proposed military facilities. How many opinions on these issues have been voiced, influencing others by comments and coverage rather than from first-hand experience?
Words, facts and figures on paper can be powerful, but rarely are they as good as seeing and experiencing a situation in person.
It was incredible to see how many people showed up when Andersen Air Force Base opened its gates on Feb. 20 for the first time in four years with the Pacific Air Partners Open House. The non-military population of Guam hears about Andersen in the news and the various exercises that happen there but never really get a visual of it all aside from the increased numbers of military personnel around the island. They hear we have multi-million dollar drones on Guam but have never actually seen one up close — or stood under its wing for shade, as was the case for many at the recent open house.
People have a desire to see the whole picture, and when they do, they better understand a situation and can then voice more informed opinions.
Opening the door to the community in many situations builds goodwill because the people understand the bigger picture and they also feel a sense of accessibility. This is especially helpful when there has been some disgruntlement over perceptions that could, in fact, be misperceptions.
Occasionally opportunities come up to peer into otherwise off-limits areas, and these opportunities should be seized, certainly by leaders and decision makers whose opinions could be influenced by a ground-zero look, but also by anyone who has not yet had the experience. A behind-the-scenes tour could also be arranged. In fact, most people on Guam would probably be more than willing to show you around if you expressed interest.
The opinions of businesses are being solicited right now on several issues. The Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management are seeking input on the minimum wage prior to an April 1 discussion on the topic. GEDA is seeking input in a Tumon Flood Mitigation Business Survey. The Guam Community College Workforce Advisory Council sought input on the workforce needs of businesses several months ago. Here are situations where opinions could be informed through first-hand experiences.
Whether you’re in a position to invite the community in to better understand what your business, agency or organization is about or you hold the responsibility of being well-informed to guide others, we hope open doors in the Marianas will become a trend for the betterment of the islands as whole.
This issue of Guam Business features some great first-hand information with our newest feature, the Most Generous Companies in the Marianas. We are pleased to provide due recognition to the companies that make giving back a priority and to shed light on just how many causes are reached through their donations. We hope you find it valuable, and we welcome your feedback.