Dear Wayland Friends and Neighbors,
Our town seems to have reached a point where we now look on each other as the opposition or even enemies. No longer do many of us try hard to understand our neighbors’ priorities, needs or points of view. Is it any wonder we’re this way given the poor behavior we see of opposing sides on the national level? The truth is that most all of us want the same basic things from our town—excellent quality of life, secure property values, and great schools for the children of the town, all at the best possible price.
Perhaps where we start to differ is in our priorities, our individual definitions of “excellent quality of life”. Some love Wayland exactly the way it is and become anxious at talk of development that will change its beautiful character. Others find the last decade’s rapid pace of tax increases to be a stressful financial burden they are no longer able to comfortably bear. Many moved to Wayland specifically for our excellent school system and panic at any thought of degradation in its quality. And still others have more specific priorities too countless and varied to list here.
Are these differing priorities in conflict, in opposition? Absolutely. But if we all try to understand our neighbors’ concerns rather than viewing others as a “side” or an enemy to win victory over, and instead truly embrace others’ needs—thereby creating our own “collective” town goals, only then can we work together, compromise, and better meet the needs of all our citizens. Quite like the practice and methodology of “win-win” negotiations, there are no losers this way.
Most importantly, our various board and committee members must believe they each serve all of Wayland, not just a specific constituency. Our town officials can effectively lead the way by working together productively to creatively meet citizens’ conflicting needs. Is there an easy and apparent way to do this? No. Otherwise we’d already be there. But surely the amount of time, energy, and money we now spend fighting each other, hating each other, trying to undermine each other, can be better spent on looking for innovative ways to reach our collective town goals.
I, for one, pledge to do my part. Will you please join me, especially our town officials and those of you who are so vocal online and in print? Take the time to really listen to others and embrace their concerns, even if they are opposed to your own. Find that common ground. Care about all your fellow Waylanders and treat everyone with respect and dignity. Use your considerable skills and talents to work together and look for ways to decrease our costs, improve our services, and keep the beautiful character of Wayland alive. These are not mutually exclusive goals. Right now there is so much ugly behavior in Wayland—we are way better than this!
Ramah HawleyWayland, MA