Wednesday, September 22, 2021


Interest and Humility

I read the responses to my April 8 letter “A Small First Step” about opening shoreline beaches to the general public with great interest and ultimately with a great deal of humility. If these responses represent the thinking of most citizens on the shoreline, then I must listen and acknowledge my own arrogance in imagining that I was offering a perspective that my fellow citizens would find engaging or even enlightened. I should also clarify that what I expressed so clumsily in the letter was my own opinion and did not represent any official stance on policy.

After reading the responses, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the points that were made. It may well be true that our beaches are already overcrowded with the people who actually live here [April 22 letter “Do What’s Right” by Sybil Nassau]. I also can’t argue with the thought that Clinton is a town of generous, hard-working blue-collar people, not the silver-spoon crowd [April 22 letter “A Cultural Phenomenon” by David Gagnon]. And it’s probably true that the July 4 beachgoers leave a lot of trash on the state park beaches that needs to be cleaned up by someone the next day. (I’ll see you there.)

What I have learned from the vehemence of some responses to my letter, is that the shoreline community is not a bastion of privilege, that it has no “problem with skin color” [Gagnon], and that I should keep my misguided thoughts and my affiliations to myself. Duly noted. Thank you.

This experience has reminded me of a paraphrase of a Franciscan prayer that a friend shared with me once: “May I understand and not be understood, may I seek to comfort and not be comforted, and where there is hatred, may I sow love.”

Hugh Birdsall