I guess that I’ve been obliquely charged with stirring up “dissension between the ‘old timers’ and the ‘newbies.’ ” And that this might be an “unwise way of thinking.”
To think that there is no tension between the newer arrivals or the “newbies” (I do believe that was my phrase) and the folks who have lived here all their lives or even a good part of their lives, would be, in my opinion, a tad out of touch with the reality of Newburyport, MA.
To walk around town and talk to a whole variety of folks, would, I believe, confirm that possible “unpleasant” reality.
However, to hope that we might be a “unified community” could in fact, I believe, be “unwise.”
I went looking for a definition of “community,” and didn’t find anything that I liked much. But I did find some help from the website of the University of Texas (of all places).
To paraphrase, the idea of “community” is a place where people know and care about each other. That there is a sense of “belonging.” But this is also coupled with a need for diversity, pluralism and dissent. And it is finding that balance between a sense of unity and diversity and dissent that is, I believe, so tricky.
One of the things that concerns me about the “Yes for Newburyport” campaign for an override, is that people are afraid to speak out against it.
I am ambivalent about this override, but I respect and understand and empathize with the folks who feel so passionately that it is important. But I also feel that it would be wise to “honor” and “respect” the folks who might feel differently, if we are to sustain a true sense of community.
And, there is a public forum sponsored by the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce along with the Newburyport Education Business Coalition to discuss the issue of the override. The panel only includes people who are for the override for the Newburyport Public Schools.
I would suggest that if we are a “true” community, and if this is a “true” neutral discussion, that at the very least, the two people who are heading the “Know Newburyport” (knownewburyport.com) campaign be included in that panel discussion as well.
And that it would also be a good “educational” example (pun very much intended) to present in such a forum, not just one, but both sides of a political issue. Certainly that is what democracy is all about.