It has been uncomfortable for me to read recent disparaging comments about our summer visitors on local social media. Just as a few bad experiences with visitors should not be used to generalize opinions about an entire group, I hope our visitors realize that the comments of a few posters on Facebook do not represent the feelings of the vast majority of the local population.
Creating prejudices from a few bad experiences and applying them to an entire group of people is something we see happening daily on the national stage. It's sad and it's wrong. It's not the American way. It's not the New Hampshire way. It's not the Christian way. And it is certainly not the Wakefield way.
I can understand some of the frustration being expressed. Any time a Town population quickly increases by multiple times as ours does every summer, it's going to put a strain on resources and bring some tension. We also don’t like change (from the other nine months of the year). Our visitors come here to get away from city madness. They long for the peaceful, slower pace, fresh air and clean water. They just want to have a fun experience. However, it can be perplexing for the locals when it appears that some of our visitors have packed their city ways and brought them along: things like speeding, impatience, looking down on rural people, and disturbing the solitude that they came here to enjoy.
On the other hand, it's important for us locals to acknowledge the symbiotic relationship we have with our visitors. Out-of-towners support of our local businesses helps them to be profitable and survive the long, cold off- season. This creates local jobs. Out-of-town property owners’ tax dollars play a major role in funding our School and Town budgets. As a group, the dollars they leave here have a very positive effect on the rest of us.
It may help to reconsider some things that our mothers tried to teach us. The first is that we have no control over anyone or anything except ourselves. You can post nasty things on Facebook if you want to try and make others act differently. You're only going to get more frustrated. I’ve been there and done that. You get a whole different response when you say: “hey buddy can you help me out?” instead of “Hey Asshole!”
Second, experiences with a few thoughtless visitors should not lead to assumptions that a whole group is tainted. Every group, including the locals, has a few in its numbers that are best avoided.
I think it might all be related to one quality that we all have and that I believe our culture has been steadily losing. It's called being considerate of others. No matter if you're a Republican or Democrat, local or visitor, right or left, you can still be considerate of the feelings of the folks you come into contact with. I think we have lost some of that along the way as the culture of cell phones and entitlement and virtual reality has increasingly crept into our lives. It seems that I see folks everywhere with an attitude of "I'm here.....and I'm entitled to have the world revolve around me!" as if life is some sort of video game. That might work perfectly in a virtual world but it's going to be quite a shock when you come back to reality.
So what can we do to calm our frustrations while attempting to make it a better, more accepting Town?
We know that we can't control anyone else’s behavior, but we can share what we have learned that helps keep us grounded.
Life is one long journey full of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. There are going to be obstacles to deal with. There's a saying: "Don't push the river...(it will only flow around you).....BE the river (which easily flows around all obstacles)." Humans are flawed....some more than others. I let the inconsiderate ones go ahead of me in line. I let them pass me on the road. I do what is needed to place a greater distance between us. I try to be the kinder person. Instead of experiencing anger, I feel better about myself.
I try not to make assumptions that will cause me to treat someone I don't even know with contempt. It's called prejudice and the world is full of it. I wouldn't want to be treated poorly for something I didn't do, so I try to give everyone an equal chance to show me their good qualities. There are stinkers in every group. Once I come into contact with them, I get away from them. But no purpose is served by punishing others for their rude behavior.
I use simple work-arounds to minimize frustration. I try to avoid Town on the weekends. I plan my moves to stay away during known high traffic times and use alternate routes when I can. If joining the madness is unavoidable, I mentally prep myself for the possibility of pain-in-the-ass moments. That way I won't be surprised and angry when I experience them.
In my younger days I didn't really understand the meaning of wisdom. I knew that older folks supposedly had it but wasn't quite sure if it meant that all their accumulated knowledge allowed them to more easily navigate a complicated world. Now that I'm becoming one of the older folks, some wisdom is slowly coming into view. As I age I realize that there isn't much that really matters to fuss and fight about. Nowadays, when I start to quickly react to something that irritates me, I try to step back from the moment and ask myself: "Does this really matter?" Most times the answer is "No".