January 27, 2023 By Dian DeNapoli
At my age I can usually tell when I have reached a breaking point. For whatever reason I can hear the “last straw” sending alarm bells to my head. I am sure we all develop a system when we know it’s Ctrl/alt/delete time for our souls. Sadly, yesterday I learned the details about a man from Hingham who ended his own life last week. This man, whose name I do not know, was a young veteran. This death would make the 5th suicide that directly impacted Hingham families since June 2022. And those are only the losses that I am aware of so please forgive me if my math is not accurate.
Yesterday, I also got on a School Budget Workshop call. I will admit not having children being educated in Hingham I have not been following the budget discussion with diligence, but I have been aware of the discussion of an override for years. While I didn’t see the entire meeting I could read the faces of those on the School Committee, and the public, who were asking questions. The mood was very tense, unusually candid, and downright dire.
After a long day, and the unthinkable events we are hearing, in our extended community, and the world, I wrote down the word “BROKE” in bold letters in my notebook. It was the only way I could describe how I felt, how I processed how my friends must be feeling about their losses, how we as a community are feeling both emotionally and economically.
I looked at the word “BROKE” on my notebook and I felt nauseous, sad, angry, helpless and I was almost too numb to move or cry. I was in that terrible real estate in your brain where you are too overwhelmed to cry because you are still trying to find reasons and solutions. It’s a normal part of shock, denial but at some point, the “why” question becomes less important than the “what do we do now question”.
To date it feels like as a community we have largely been suffering and processing all these unprecedented events alone. I know the town has started a “Mental Health Task force” and I applaud their efforts. I also know the Hingham Public Schools have been trying to prioritize metal health for years, long before Covid. My instinct tells me these efforts are not going to be enough to scratch the right itch for most of the residence of Hingham.
So, I pose this question to you, my fellow Hingham community members, what do we do now? If you agree that we have hit an emotional and economic impasse, a“broke” reality, how do we repair or rebuild Hingham?
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Using this notion as a guide how are we going to address our broken state?
I call on all residents of Hingham, community and spiritual leaders, and elected officials to try to develop a meaningful way to engage in conversation about how we rebuild Hingham both emotionally and economically.
I believe the people of Hingham have the will, talent, and capacity to rise to this moment in history. We can forge a more connected and compassionate community but to do so will take a great deal of creativity, respect and collective sacrifice.