I’m just back home from attending town meeting as I write this and I’m agitated. Not for the typical reason that something I cared about lost. To the contrary, all the environmental protection measures were approved. I’m upset because I feel like the proxy culture wars that have consumed the country reared their ugly head in my town tonight. For the first time I heard arguments opposing improving the environment whose tone reflected what I have heard on the national level.

A vocal minority expressed a resistance to managing individual behavior for a collective good. Sound familiar? Nothing new here, but it was jarring to hear it at town meeting, a place where people have always gathered with a spirit of community. Community spirit prevailed by a sliver, but it was challenged in a way I have not seen before. As I left, I could not help but feel that we had split into sides that had more closely tracked macro political divides rather than being based on the issues in front of us on the warrant. I am nagged by the feeling that in the larger scheme of things, the broader interest took a hit and that’s not a good thing for the town over the long term. I am left wondering how best to stem the emerging divide before the gap becomes too large to bridge. The answer is not obvious to me, but I worry if we have lost the ability to find a pathway acceptable to more than 50.1 percent of the population. I wonder what we will look like as a town, state and country if we cannot figure this out.

Some of you know, and my family is painfully aware, that I listen pretty much exclusively to E Street Radio and have liberally quoted Springsteen in these pieces. I heard an unusual version of “Long Walk Home” this morning that caught my attention then and resonates even more tonight. My concern is best expressed in the lyrics below. Good song; give it a listen.

Now the water’s rising ’round the corner, there’s a fire burning out of control
There’s a hurricane on Main Street and I’ve got murder in my soul
Yeah well when the party’s over, when the cheering is all gone
Will you know me, will I know you, will I know you

Long Walk Home, Springsteen Live in London, November 11, 2006