To the editor:
I - and many, many others - have written letters to the Enterprise and other publications regarding the debate about the Adirondack Scenic Railroad corridor. Despite all the ink that's been spilt, the only progress I can see in this dialogue is the stiffening of each side's postion toward the other.
As I walked the tracks the other day, what I thought was a better-than-average hare-brained idea occurred to me, and for what it's worth, here it is:
I presume everyone is familiar with Opposite Day, when kids (usually - unless you're a member of the Protracted Adolescent Society) say and do the opposite of what they usually or should do. Suppose we have an Opposite Day Debate about the rail corridor. What this would consist of is supporters of ARTA (Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates) and those who want to keep/restore the railroad sitting down to engage in an old-fashioned forensic debate, where a propostion would be presented - say, "Be it resolved that the Adirondack Railroad corridor be converted to a recreation trail" - and then each side would argue for or against this proposition. HOWEVER, what I propose is that each side switch sides for this debate, so now ARTA would be arguing AGAINST this, and the railroad proponents would be arguing FOR it.
What I hope would happen is that:
A. We'd all pause in taking ourselves so seriously.
B. Each side would spend a few minutes looking at this from their opponent's point of view, and maybe see where their arguments overlap or merge.
C. Given that both sides seem to have attracted a bevy of intelligent, articulate people to their cause, this could be heap big fun!
No binding decisions would arise from this debate, so this shouldn't affect any legalities surrounding the debate. All that would be asked of everyone would be to make a sincere effort to mount a persuasive and well-reasoned argument for their newly adopted position.
Perhaps - just perhaps - this may provide an opportunity for us to remember that we're all neighbors here, and that regardless of our position, our passion arises from this place we cherish so much and which some of us are fortunate enough to call home. What I hope is that if the rail side travel for a mile on a bike, and the trail side travel for a mile on the train, then maybe we can take this argument beyond where it seems to be stuck, to begin mutually recognizing and respecting the merit of both sides of this debate, and to go from dividing our energies to multiplying them.
Perhaps this could be sponsored by the Enterprise or the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce or Adirondack North Country Association. If no other organization can or will, may I offer the services of the currently dormant Green Tree School of Thought, which has, since 1972, sponsored events aligned with our (borrowed) motto of, "Life is too wonderful to take too seriously."
I encourage all involved to seriously consider this proposal; what have we got to lose?
(Editor's note: We at the Enterprise like this idea and might be willing to help organize such a debate if parties from both sides tell us they'd participate. They should contact Managing Editor Peter Crowley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-891-2600 ext. 22.)