Sarah Etelman: Proud of South Hadley students who spoke out

  • mactrunk

Monday, February 05, 2018
Proud of South Hadley students who spoke out

I am so proud of our community and our residents — and especially our concerned youth.

Sometimes, when something happens, the negative reactions both within and outside of the community itself are so loud that it is impossible to hear other voices, often quieter, that are saying, “That doesn’t represent me, or who we are as a community.”

And sometimes, as we witnessed last week, the strongest voices are the ones saying, “That doesn’t represent me. This is not who we are.” Last week, South Hadley students chose to stand up and speak out for what we strive to be: a welcoming community, one that rejects bigotry, racism, and homophobia. One voice does not represent a community, but many voices together, speaking up for acceptance, caring, mutual respect, and kindness, do.

For more than a year, the South Hadley Select Board has been working together with our residents and town employees on a series of workshops that we have been calling a Symposium of Understanding. Through civil dialogue, our goals have been to define what we stand for as a community, as we explore the many ways we can understand our shared experiences, as well as our differences, and ensure that we value and welcome all.

We will be continuing this process, and in the days and months ahead, we hope even more people from the community — from our youths to our seniors, and all ages in between — will participate in these workshops and work together to move South Hadley forward.

As we embarked on this journey in the summer of 2016, our invitation included the following words: “While we do not all need to agree on every issue, we do have to learn to see beauty in the mosaic of diversity of thought. Our ultimate goal is not to legislate, but for South Hadley to lead.”

Please join us in these efforts.

Sarah Etelman

South Hadley

The writer is chairwoman of the South Hadley Select Board.