Letter: Wake up, Wilton

To the Editors:

My family moved to Wilton in 2001 where we lived until this past July. My wife Kellianne and I have four children who each attended Wilton schools. We met many wonderful people and made life-long friendships and memories on our street and throughout town during our 16 years as members of the community.  

Even before the most recent events made headlines, a disappointing change has been brewing. Despite the bucolic setting, the phenomenal schools and an abundance of resources most other places in this country can only dream to have, a unifying spirit has been disappearing from Wilton. While there may be a number of contributing reasons, I can assure you that not one of them start with any elected officials, the school superintendent, school principals, high school athletic director or others involved in the town administration.

Wilton, it is now time to wake up. You can no longer chalk things up as “typical Fairfield County behavior.” Attributes like civility, respect, tolerance, gratitude, intellectual disagreement, community pride and civic involvement (all things that once differentiated Wilton from its neighboring towns) have been slowly eroding to reveal an ugly undercurrent of self-entitlement, ignorance, and anger. You see it in town meetings, in schools, on sports sidelines and on social media. The troubling headlines currently emanating from town regarding hate speak from children in the schools and parental over-exuberance and violence on the sports sidelines are just symptoms of this decay.  And now, word is getting out.

With a bit of perspective achieved from having lived outside the bubble for a few months, I am here to report that what you are experiencing is not normal. Of course, kids behave badly and parents get fired up at sporting events everywhere. However, I can confirm that there are places where authenticity, accountability, acceptance, courtesy, graciousness and empathy are more highly regarded than what type of car you drive or to what college your kid gets accepted. These places understand that these are among values that form the foundation upon which strong communities stand — and upon which they also lean when times are tough.

So, here you are Wilton. What will you do? Will you continue to shrug in complicit acceptance of the ignorance, hate and anger currently on full display? Are you going to accept accountability for how your own words and actions impact the harmony of the community? Will you look to point fingers at a divided nation, politicians, educators, town administrators or something else? Or will you decide to take a good look in the mirror and do something meaningful beyond sharing a hashtag or a Facebook profile pic change? This is your wake up call, Wilton. You have so many reasons to be grateful for the community that was built before you arrived and the strong, successful community that you can be in the future. You are better than this.
David A. Frankel
Formerly Washington Post Drive
Currently Scituate, Mass., Oct. 30