Saturday, April 12, 2014
What Do We Want For Plainfield?
The flood of comments to a post on Tuesday appears to have been a fluke, but still the tone of many indicates the need for honest talk about Plainfield. What kind of city do we have, and is it the kind of city we want?
I have lived here for more than 30 years now, and as a reporter I got to interact with perhaps many more parts of the community than most residents. The majority of Plainfielders, of whatever race or class, get along as neighbors and have a common interest in the betterment of the city. In block associations and other organizations, diverse individuals have no problem joining together for the common good.
But in recent years, I have observed an increase in people drawing distinctions and getting off in their own ideological corners. I think the public comment portion of many City Council meetings would bear that out. Some speakers see plots where there are none. Others fling characterizations that do not exist in fact.
My hope had been earlier this year that the proposed revival of the Human Relations Commission and the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs might foster greater understanding among city residents in all four wards and of all ethnic backgrounds. However, I have not seen any meeting schedules for these organizations so far (nor for several new boards and commissions). Most of us are very busy with work and family and though we may try to advance harmony in our personal interactions, it is up to some of these appointed groups to take on the general task of helping us all get along.
I hope we will soon hear from these organizations and what they are doing to promote good will among Plainfielders. Many people choose to live here specifically because it is a diverse population, but once factions arise and start drawing lines in the sand, diversity is no longer a good thing. If people feel forced to take sides and show solidarity by condemning "the other," the city suffers.
Perhaps later this year we shall see more of a movement to embrace what we have in common as Plainfielders and leave off the negative race and class distinctions that separate us. Let it be so.