Woog’s World: Westport and what about it?

The United States is a nation devoured by anything.

“Gun violence is an epidemic! No school, theater, mall, church, or synagogue is safe,” many Americans say. But what about my right to bear arms and protect myself and my family? It’s in the constitution! Others counter.

Women’s reproductive rights must be protected. Roe v. Wade was settled 50 years ago,” one part of the country cries out. “But what about the life of the fetus?” Another part answers. “Life begins with pregnancy!”

“Jan. 6 was a rebellion – a seditious day that nearly brought down democracy,” says one party. “But what about Hunter Biden?” other responses. “Or Hillary’s emails? Or Benghazi?”

What-about-ism is deadly dangerous. Our politicians, our news networks, and our social media feed. But it is not only related to national news. Anyone in Westport can play.

A group of residents declared that “Kribari Bridge must be renovated”. “It is over 130 years old. This is dangerous. It obstructs vehicular traffic on it, and boat traffic underneath.”

“But what about the traffic that the new bridge will bring?” Others ask. “It has to be big, to meet current standards. Huge trucks will try to cross it. Saugatuck will be paralyzed.”

Affordable housing is what is classic. “We need to diversify our inventory,” proponents say. “Westport must provide options for seniors, teachers, police, firefighters, other township employees, and youth.”

Opponents reply: “Our roads and schools are already full.” “We can’t deal with all these newcomers. There is no place to put them all.”

Downtown is ground zero for the rest of the world. “We need to make Main Street more attractive to shoppers,” says one Westporters group. “Let’s try a pedestrian center. Or bring back more mom-and-pop stores.”

“But what about parking?” Request another set. “And the rights of shop owners to protect their investments, and rents for anyone who wants to be there?”

What’s around the world is rarely resolved – at least not to the satisfaction of both parties. It is not prepared for settlement. What-about-ism begins with the premise that life is a game of winners and losers.

Life is also a game of yesterday and today. It switches between the past and the present. When someone complains about life today, we can often find a “what about” example to prove that our world really isn’t that bad.

When someone complains about the beach combo – the new bathrooms spoil the view from the Buckleball pitches; Franchisee rates are too high; Litter boxes are overflowing – we could say, “But what about rocks?”

For decades—until the late 1950s—combo had more rocks than sand. It took a concerted municipal effort to turn it into a beach we now know. Nobody remembers those days wanting to turn back the clock.

Traffic is bad – and it gets worse. But what about pre-built I-95? The Postal Route was the only way from New York to Boston. Huge trucks passed, at all hours of the day and night. It was noisy and smelly (an accident near Sylvan Road killed four firefighters). The opening of the Connecticut Turnpike changed the city almost overnight. We can hate the highway for many reasons – but what if it was never built?

Of course, “what about” can work both ways. How about the fact that the Metro-North train ride to New York takes longer today than it did when our parents and grandparents traveled? Yes, but what about how uncomfortable those train journeys were, on the bankrupt New Haven and Penn Central lines?

OK, but what about a bar car? That was a great institution and a great loss. Yes, but what about all the drunk passengers who got off on it, and then tried to drive home?

But what about the wives who bore them? At the time, both parents did not have to work in order to be able to live in Westport. But what about all those women who sacrificed their jobs to raise their children? But what about the opportunities for women now to enjoy full, satisfying jobs? But what about the demands of those professions, while still often bearing the burden of raising children? But what about the fact that so many people work from home? But what about why they did it: a global pandemic?

What-about-ism could be a rabbit hole. But hey, what’s wrong with rabbits? They are cute and lovable. But what about the damage they do to our vegetable gardens? But what about the fact that they were here first? But what about that we’re here now?

There is no limit to what goes on. You cannot turn it off. But what if you try…

Dan Woog is a writer in Westport, and his book “Woog’s World” appears every Friday. He can be contacted at [email protected] His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.

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