By Michael Herbert
ASHLAND – Over the course of 2020, we have experienced a monumental escalation in tension throughout our nation, which has inevitably filtered into our cities and towns. While Ashland has weathered these storms better than most, we have not been immune to it.
Fortunately Ashland, like many towns across the Commonwealth are based more on community principles, and less on party affiliation. Our shared values of compassion, practicality, benevolence, and equality of opportunity transcend political ideologies and created the town that we have today and will also be the values that guide us into the future.
In light of that, regardless of this election’s result (and it appears that it may be a while before we know that result with any certainty), many of our neighbors and friends will be disappointed.
Continuing to focus as a town on those aforementioned shared values will ensure that we have the ability to look at the coming months as an opportunity to bring us together versus dividing us further.
Within this context, I am writing today to communicate two important points. First, the way your public officials govern, and the way your employees and staff approach their jobs, is blind to whether you voted Democrat, Republican, or didn’t even vote at all.
As Town Manager, I have a truly blessed opportunity to see this play out on a daily basis so it can be said with the utmost confidence.
Nevertheless, I believe that public officials have a role to play in the healing and de-escalation that will need to happen for our communities if we are to transcend our current state of affairs.
I want to assure you that we will approach this, as Abraham Lincoln stated, “With malice towards none, and charity for all.”
To that end, over the next days and weeks we will be distributing resources to help all in our community rebuild bridges and mend relationships between ALL of us. I also know our school department will be providing similar resources for our parents and students.
Second, the election results are going to lead some to experience disappointment, grief, despair, perhaps rage, while others will feel vindicated.
Many of those same people are going to feel tempted to ostracize and attack. It’s a naturally occurring human reaction, heightened by the social climate of today.
If you find yourself tempted to go down that path, I want to ask you all to please take a moment and remember not only who we were before this pandemic hit but who we will eventually be again. While you may feel like lashing out, at the end of the day, those that you malign are still going to be your fellow residents and friends. Eventually, you are going to see them at a neighborhood get together or at your kids’ games. They could be the owner of a business that you frequent, which greatly contributes to our town. They may be members of the same congregation or community organization. Once things are said, you can’t unring many of those bells, despite your most sincere apologies. Pause and restraint, especially over the next few weeks, will serve us all well.
Remember that even though it feels like a lifetime, our world was upended only 9 months ago. Prior to that, we were doing very well and poised to accomplish some great things as a town. We have the opportunity to get to that place again, only this time it’s going to take a little more work. We shouldn’t shy away from it.
Michael Herbert is the Town Manager in Ashland and a Framingham resident. He sent out this message to Ashland residents today, November 4.