One group of individuals that often make our paper, but have never been mentioned in this weekly editorial, are the members of the Windham Town Council and the Raymond Board of Selectmen.
Before you allow exasperation to arise and envision throwing stones at certain town officials or roll your eyes in disgust, I’d like to offer alternative perspectives, refocusing our individual passions (and sometimes our anger) for the good.
I’m aware that my 400-word editorial will not offer any quick fixes to what lacks in all political systems, but my intention is to highlight the encouraging aspects of those individuals who do their best, in the ways they deem best, to create thriving and livable towns – whether we agree with them or not.
As a person who attends both town meetings, I witness the multi-layered aspects of what these elected positions entail. Often, they are handed challenging assignments, difficult fiscal matters, complicated policies and challenging projects; they must initiate solutions to countless issues and problems. They do this while raising a family, holding down a job, as well as tending to other personal and professional demands.
I know it is easy to second-guess councilors’ or selectmen's decisions, because we are all passionate about the things we care about and believe important. Often, we only weigh our own interests and perspective without taking into account the many other issues, opinions and concerns that must be considered. Somehow, they must find a way to balance it all.
Democracy contains a wide range of ideas, experiences, skills and opinions; and debating issues is an important part of the process in progressive civic engagement. But when these differing opinions and conversations escalate to the point that a council member or a selectman is bullied or publicly or privately attacked with insults, then democracy at its best begins to crumble. But just as important, bullying is unacceptable and childish behavior that offers few opportunities for problem solving.
Every person who sits on the council or board, even those we disagree with or whom we may even dislike, should be respected for accepting the burden that comes with their job of making our communities a great place to live. Before we throw stones, I would encourage us to remember that these individuals are people just like you and me.
As the proverb suggests, perhaps we can take a mile-long walk in their shoes and a deep breath. In doing so, maybe positive solutions can occur, friends can be made and something remarkable can happen. If anything, it would make a great story to share.