Throughout my years representing residents of the town of greenburgh the things which I have most impressed has been the towns diversity and willingness to accept and appreciate different viewpoints and lifestyles. Any attack on these values would be a terrible loss for the town, it’s reputation and it’s desirability as a place to live in peace and harmony. In recent weeks some residents have reported growing racial tensions which I think is sad. See Hudson Independent article about a T shirt message in Dobbs as an example.
Reconciliation in a Time of Distrust
Clearly, we live in trying times. Based upon each individual person’s politics, values and perception of the world and our growing inability to accept and respect difference, society is becoming further and further polarized. We in Greenburgh are clearly not immune to this epidemic of distrust and discord and the current paradigm sadly, provides an environment which is generating greater distress while precluding reconciliation.
Example: Today, residents of Dobbs Ferry are struggling bitterly over “language on a tee shirt.”
The Perception: A substantial number of our community members paint the inscribed language as racist and hateful, while its “author” vehemently disagrees and describes his intent as specific to a changes in the community (overdevelopment) and not directed at any group. Community members “line-up” behind one side or the other based upon politics and values and the resultant anger does nothing but propel those with different opinions further apart.
The Reality: As is often the case, “perception is everything.”
The Problem: In todays world of Covid Pandemia and with an ever growing and increased level of indignation regarding centuries of racism, tempers are shorter, and people are more sensitive. Most important, but often overlooked, regardless of beliefs, individuals appear to be expressing their deepest and previously unexpressed feelings, in an environment where nothing you can say is off limits or out of bounds.
WE NEED TO CARE ABOUT HOW ONE’S ACTIONS AFFECT OTHERS...Freedom of speech may come at cost of hurting those around you--your neighbors
The Result: There is less and less appreciation for the feelings of those around us and little care about how one’s actions affect others. We live in a society where our Constitution allows us the “Freedom of Speech,” however this freedom to express one’s opinion may come at the cost of hurting those around you. These people live in your community, share homes on your block and share playtime with your children.
ACCEPT AND RESPECT DIFFERENCES--CONSIDER FEELINGS OF OTHERS
The Answer: There is not one specific cure, but clearly any potential version of a cure requires the acceptance and respect of difference. That means, difference of race, religion, sexual orientation, politics and long held values.
I believe the only option we have left as a community is to create an environment where every person takes responsibility for their actions and statements.
Do we care enough about our neighbors to think about how are words will be perceived and accepted?
Do we care enough about providing a world of acceptance and tolerance for our children, where we set aside our personal needs and teach our children a lesson of love and tolerance, by considering the feelings of others?
Can we finally realize that without honest discussion and sensitivity to the needs and beliefs of others, our future and those of our children, will be tarnished and without compassion?
KEEP OUR COMMUNITY TOGETHER
Let’s work together to encourage everyone to get along, to respect each other, to treat each other as equals and to end all forms of racism.
A quote from Nelson Mandela:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.https://thehudsonindependent.com/message-on-t-shirts-causing-concern-in-dobbs-ferry/
Paul FeinerGreenburgh Town Supervisor