To the editor:
As I go over letters written to the Daily News regarding the proposed LHD, or pass the rhythm of signs along High Street yes, no, yes, no, I try to define the divergences. Do they stem from primal political positions? Do they reflect some kind of culture war? Do they indicate who's new to town or those whose ancesters' homes they still inhabit?
April 4's letters, one by LHD, Alan Papert, and another by opponent, Matthew Talas, appear to be polar opposites, but are they really? Do we only appear to have two sides to this issue? What are the unifying factors ?
Emotions are playing a big role here, and they should. It wouldn't be discourse without passion, and mine happens to be on the side of LHD, unequivocally. To say we "Yes" folks are "old-home enthusiasts" misses the point. We simply believe that the benefits of an LHD are a sensible and pragmatic response to an evolving city. We feel we can put our trust in a few intelligent and sensitive people who value our historical integrity, who might have better informed ideas than our own, who can help us make wise decisions and, most importantly, who invite our own ideas and involvement.
On the other hand, no one wants to imagine they are not wise already or that they might have to submit to additional layers of bureaucracy, forms to fill out or waiting lines that already hamper their lives. I would say that we all do a pretty good job of this already, even as we cross the street, buy our stamps or dial 911. As we grow to live within the strictures of government, we barely recognize them, convenient or not. We may not like government, but we have to trust it, and if we don't, we can get involved in it. A small city like ours is just the place to do this.
Where is the common ground? Face it, all of us are really just passing through. We're only fleeting custodians of the riches of Newburyport, our temporal ownership only a blip on the trajectory. And just as human, we are all alike in that we fear loss . Loss of "rights" and loss of beautiful buildings are just a few small examples on that scale. Most of us would agree that there are some interests, even entities, that are larger, longer-lasting and much, much more powerful than we, or our fears, are. One of these is our history. To me, this is the most unifying factor of all.