The following open letter was submitted by NutleyWatch community member “Espalier”.
And I have to say, he or she is rapidly becoming a top contender for the coveted title of Resident WordSmith around here!
Sometimes I write; on cards and napkins and on the wall. I also care for people’s lives, every decent chance I get. And it doesn’t end there. Griff, the site owner of NutleyWatch, has kindly invited me to post in a community blog on this site. I’m willing to see where the invitation goes and intend to explore it from time to time and in full view of the public.
I’m secretly hoping (not!) to gain access to Griff’s true identity (as if!). For now, I’m pleased beyond words with the chance to sing for my supper.
This format, an online community discussion, offers a concerned citizen a modicum of respect for the fine line between private life and public involvement in the community from which we spring. I sincerely hope that people will be respectful of this very thin veil. In the future which emerges, such measures might become less necessary. For now, I’m hoping we can give one another a chance to elevate our sense of purpose, and make room for each of us, and our best efforts, as we take steps in the direction of better government. It is my fondest hope that this will help provide for a flourishing civic life which we all can enjoy.
I allow that there are those who will move to trash this project, simply because it exists in defiance of their particular burning desire, and will continue to, just out of reach of their ability to steal or deface it.
Fault me if you will. I will do my best to respond appropriately. We all have things to learn, in our own good time, and there are many paths on which we can advance. I believe the traverse will be vertiginous at times, but there are serious downsides to operating continually in the environment of past traumas. As many engaged citizens have loudly proclaimed, children’s lives are in the balance. At the same time, when we don’t manage to keep the kid in each of us cared for and properly fed, I have to wonder how fit we are to assume full responsibility for ourselves, let alone the lives of others.
Mangling the shine of a young life is one of the most heinous crimes I can think of. I see people do it without a second thought.
There’s a reason we see a lot of our neighbors in and around town, on wheels or on foot, strolling with kids or friends or pets, or simply with themselves. We’re seen enjoying our public parks–still kicking it around, albeit a little bit slower, with a knee brace, or a waddle, or a limp. People do well to get out and play, among their friends and peers and people they just met, because it is essential to growth and development, to our sense of belonging, and to the well being of our community. The benefits of congenial surroundings are profound and ongoing. A secure and challenging learning environment, rooted in a palpable sense of community, is essential to the health of our neighbors, our children, our families, and ourselves. A thriving community will reward us and reinforce us. It can then compound the irreplaceable wealth of our own hard-earned longevity.
Or, if you prefer, you can get your kicks busting stuff and enjoying mayhem. With luck, you’ll get the chance to grow out of it.
Some of us prefer a more controlled environment, with set destinations and predictable interactions. Bunches fall into the trap of choosing against the greater good, in favor of the more narrow interest of strictly personal pursuits. When left to hazard, theirs can become a troubled search for meaning and status–a fitful quest for individual control or affiliative superiority or the chimeric lure of a really sweet little job offer. Or maybe a spot in a gang. I wish them well, but they can be a blight on the land. When their appetites proceed unchecked, and they then seek to limit my sense of trust, and safety, and belonging, I become concerned. When I awake one day to a storm of deliberate nastiness and open contempt for our value as a community, I reach out on the chance that I can help deliver a needed change.
There will always be someone willing to run right over me and never look back.
I believe that we need to care for one another, as well as ourselves, or we will find ourselves undermined and ignobly ruled. The principles and practices of honesty, transparency, and accountability, cannot be casually jeopardized in a life of sworn public service. In our personal lives, as well, a commitment to openness and mutual respect are the life blood of trusted relationships. I caution anyone who would attempt to survive in a desert of complete cynicism; where skin begins to blister and senses are pained and organs struggle and the thirst becomes unbearable. In desperate times and troubled environments, people can be reduced to drinking just about anything.
And drink they do. There will always be plenty of high-dollar kool-aid pushers, so please choose wisely.
I intend to take care with this offering to the community, and sincerely hope we will find the discussion which ensues to be fit for human consumption. Comments are welcome. Critiques are encouraged. If you must criticize, take care to consult with the person in the mirror very, very carefully. Problems often reside, in their most fundamental forms, in this precise relationship. It is here, as well, that problems can often be most efficiently addressed at the outset. Still, many of us choose, instead, to inflict ourselves on one another. The people closest to us, and those most in evidence, are generally the ones who feel the brunt of our misdirected anger, our blind ambition, and our tragic obstinacy.
Those closest to us, when we take leave of our senses, become our convenient targets, which is why it is unconscionably brutal to act in the service of the deluded. You can’t make a life of it, so wise up, take steps, or contact the proper authorities, way before things get out of hand.
If a reader, here, resorts to open attacks and insults, I will surmise that they feel threatened or belittled or antagonized, and I’ll do my best to arrive at the root of that concern. I prefer that neither worry, nor frustration, hold us back. At the same time, we need to be cognizant that things can change–radically–for any or all of us at any time. The life we think we know so well can crumple, with little warning, so please don’t wish anyone ill.
If you just can’t help yourself, then don’t be surprised when you wake up in a very small room, or maybe not at all. Lots of people are eager to reform once they realize the jig is up, or when they’ve lost the upper hand.
Like many of us, I have but an inkling of the energy and resources needed to sustain the vehicle, and the commitment, that a community website such as this might come to require. If you are able, please don’t hesitate to contribute your own work and perspective, and to help fill in any logistical or informational gaps as they might become apparent. My voice is, thankfully, one among many. I feel very strongly that we can all benefit–in some ways, indefinitely–from a crisis well resolved.
Then again, we can always accede to be herded from bad to worse, just to please a long line of criminal manipulators. Me, I’m living for better days and I can see them here and now, with many more straight ahead. All without having to pack up and leave town.