Editorial: Overcome differences

So many problems — the neighborhood’s, the town’s, the world’s problems — have their roots in differences, and people making too much of them.

Racial differences were the principal focus of the civil rights leader whose vision and heart will be celebrated Monday. But race wasn’t Dr. Martin Luther King’s only concern. He was an advocate not only for civil rights but for peace, and economic justice. His life’s work was of necessity confrontational — taking on entrenched racism. Yet the goal was a world of less confrontation, greater tolerance, shared understanding.

There’s a world of problems large and small that could benefit from being approached with greater tolerance, more understanding, less confrontation — and with King’s resolute determination to bring people’s better angels out of hiding, and enlist them to serve the greater good.

Last week, more than 160 people came out on a bitterly cold night, some waiting outside in a line that stretched down the street, to vote at a town meeting to ban the reuse of by-products from the fracking process. There was no benefit for themselves. They believed in protecting the environment and wanted their voices to be part of change for the good.

Also last week, battling neighbors brought a dispute over solar arrays before the Zoning Board of Appeals and then the selectmen. There are two environmental aspects, and a human one. Solar arrays are environmentally responsible — producing clean energy, direct from the sun. Their appearance is unsettling to some, and that’s important in a community that values its historic roots. The lived, human environment has a visual aspect.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi ended the discussion at last week’s meeting with a simple plea to the neighbors — one that echoes Dr. King. The differences behind this anger and bitterness aren’t so great — look past them, overcome them, see all the good that can shared.