November 19, 2020, Submitted by Diane Sheehan DeNapoli
Like many in our country and in Hingham, I am feeling depleted and dismayed from the events of the last eight months. We all have been bravely trying to carry on in a world that at times we do not recognize. Many of the institutions we hold dear, like our churches, our schools, our workplaces, have in essence dissolved into "Zoom worlds" because we can not gather, engage or have a real-time sense of humanity.
On Saturday, the good people of Hingham have been asked to gather for a Special Town Meeting in a pandemic in late fall in New England. The residents have been asked to purchase a piece of land to potentially build a new safety building. But in true Hingham fashion, what could be seen as a simple business decision is anything but simple.
Nothing seems simple in a pandemic. People are tired of mixed messages from local and federal leaders. We are worried about losing jobs, losing Ferries, losing over 250,000 fellow Americans, and dare I say it, I am worried about losing the soul of our beloved country.
When I first thought about voting on Saturday, I started by asking many of the same questions as my fellow astute Hingham residents: Is this piece of property overpriced? Is this the right location? Do we REALLY need this now when so many of the Town's other needs like the library, the Senior Center, and our schools are in dire need of funding? Funding for these programs was anemic prior to the pandemic, and now will undoubtedly take a sizable override to keep going at the pre-pandemic levels.
To my fellow parents: I know the pain and anger of seeing your kids fall behind academically and the sorrow of seeing your children feeling isolated. Having two children with disabilities, I am far too familiar with trying to keep the ship afloat when you feel hopeless and ignored. I admit to feelings of anger toward some members of the School Administration and the School Committee because of their lack of ability to act swiftly and lead with sincere compassion to serve the students in their care.
Saturday, the good people of Hingham will have a unique opportunity to lead by example. I think about our firefighters having to come back from a call and worry about if their equipment will leak so many carcinogens they or their fellow firefighters will get cancer. According to the CDC, firefighters have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general US population. I am troubled that a victim of domestic abuse will have to face their assailant in the current Hingham police station. It is deeply bothersome to know our female firefighters have to cohabit in a space that does not allow them a level of privacy that one should expect in a workplace.
One could say the above-mentioned issues are simply compliance issues and this project can wait given the many challenges we face as a community and a country. But, like so many other issues we have faced in 2020, this vote is about testing our will and asking us to show our commitment to compassion for others who may seem very different. I think about the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King "The time is always right to do what is right.” Let us do what is right for our first responders by voting to purchase the property for a new safety building, Saturday, November 21, 2020.