Last week, I was asked by a local citizen who is a part of the Voices for Vision Coalition (VVC) to support a measure to establish a task force and a name for the approximately six miles of trail system that wind through and around the City of Wayne. Upon reading the letter accompanying the request, my initial response was to simply not sign the petition for the naming of the trail. Not being one to act out of haste, I stewed on it a day and then returned a call to the individual who sent the request to let her know that I had decided not to support the naming of the trail. My reason: I did not want to be affiliated with what appeared to be a politically motivated naming of the trail. Don’t ask me why that was my first reaction to the request. Maybe it is because we are all hypersensitive to the rhetoric we have been hearing in Washington DC. Maybe it is because I have felt and seen the backlash of doing or not doing something in this day and age that pits neighbor against neighbor. Maybe it is because having an opinion on something in our society means that you slit your own throat as a business owner with the 50 percent who don’t share your same ideology. Maybe I’m just sick of the derision and contempt spewing from every digital device on a daily basis. Maybe I’m just tired. Period. For whatever reason, I decided to be Switzerland and play neutral.
The next day, I had lunch with a good friend at an undisclosed location. (Socially distanced for those who want to lash me with a wet noodle for even daring to indulge). I brought the matter up having seen some familiar names on the list of supporters and asked her take on the measure. We had a great discussion about the trail and what it offers to Wayne, including the fact that it can be a great marketing tool for our community and a business such as mine when people ask the question, “So, what is there to do around here?” “Well, let me tell you about our trail system…” My friend also offered insights about the ideas behind the letter of support for the naming of the trail which warranted a second call to my friendly member of the VVC who so graciously listened to my case the day before.
The second call was far more productive. I was able to focus and truly hear the meaning behind the proposed name for the trail. The Freedom Trail. A name that can mean so much to people from all different walks of life. A name that has particular gravity in light of the persecution, violence, and discrimination many others have faced in recent months on American soil. The great melting pot. A name that signifies the struggle to obtain that for which we all strive, the freedom to live our lives without fear of violence or retribution simply because of our skin color, our beliefs, or our abilities. The Freedom Trail.
The Voices for Vision Coalition has a great vision for our community and those of us who enjoy the freedom of being American citizens. The VCC not only hopes to name The Freedom Trail, but also use it as a tool for educating all those who choose to travel it about freedom and the sacrifice freedom requires. Such a simple concept blurred by the fears of retribution and politics. I am tired of the derision we all have to face in this day and age. I am ready for a change. I support the naming of the Freedom Trail. I support the Voices for Vision Coalition. And, I hope we can all burn three days and two phone calls to truly see the motivation behind their plea for justice and equality for all. Freedom is not just a privilege that should be enjoyed by a select few. Freedom is for all. Welcome Home.