To the Editor:
I am of the firm belief that by virtue of the fact that you know about the existence of a situation, you become responsible for its continuation.
As we approach town meeting time, it is a time for serious reflection. Increasing growth pressures on our Island are bringing forth issues of great importance, and our present actions and decisions will impact greatly on our future. We who represent the citizens, many of whom volunteer hours of their time every week, care passionately about our community, but we do not always agree as to what is best.
Most of us are not trained in negotiation. At meetings, tempers can flair, and the issue at hand can take a second seat to egos, personality conflicts, and political allegiances. This seems to be happening more now than in the past, and we are not alone.
Political observers and social scientists say that feelings of isolation, cynicism and disaffection are widespread and deeply felt from Capitol Hill to local town boards. In a New York Times op-ed essay, Melanie Grossman, a member of the Woodbridge Connecticut board of finance wrote, “We do not sit as neighbors any longer, but rather take on the demeanor of pit bulls.” I do not want this for our Island community.
It is the job of our Island and town government officials to keep our government responsive to our citizens, so they feel more invested in it. Trust in the system sustains the system. Civility in our town and county government is imperative. It is not always easy when one feels strongly about an issue, but a quiet, thoughtful response most often carries far more weight than an uncivil, loud, angry one.
As we look forward to our town meetings, I recall two bumper stickers that grace our vehicles. We need to pay particular attention to them. They are “Democracy is not a spectator sport” and “Think globally, act locally.”
I urge all our citizens to go to their town meetings and to vote. It is not only a right, but it is also a privilege. Do you realize that an article can be either voted up or down by one vote? Talk about seeing one’s vote count — that vote may be yours.