Vol. II No. 11 6/1/2021
The Stockbridge Way
Governing the meetings that Stockbridge Updates covers are Open Meeting Laws, Public Record Laws, and Robert's Rules of Order. Governing the decisions that SU reports are General bylaws, zoning bylaws, and Mass General Laws. Once, there was also the Stockbridge way.
The Stockbridge way of behaving made the village a more comfortable place to be. The Stockbridge way was clear, felt, and accepted by most. If someone behaved badly, someone else would chide, "that is not Stockbridge."
For example, it was not the Stockbridge way...
To bully. It may change behavior in the moment, but it will never change a mind in the long run.
To interrupt. Don't be impatient to speak. You know what you have to say; find out what others do.
To honk. Assume if they stopped, they have good reason; ask if you can help.
To leave garbage on the trail or roadside for someone else to collect.
To pave it — impervious surfaces are bad for the planet.
It was the Stockbridge way...
To say please and thank you because we are blessed with what we receive, not entitled to it.
To know right from wrong and do good; don't rationalize doing bad.
To sit and reason together — the policeman, fireman, housewife, professor, senator, gardener, and mechanic.
To recognize that people have the right of way on and off the road.
How did the Stockbridge way come to be? For one thing, the highest value was never placed on having the most money. Townsfolk didn't have much money; their progenitors had no discretionary income at all. So, they relied on other characteristics. The most valued things were being a good neighbor, doing a good job, and comity — courtesy and consideration toward others. Maintaining relationships was more important than winning small victories.
Doors were left unlocked because a neighbor coming to call was more likely than a robber. Not stealing was part of "doing unto others as you would have them do onto you". The Golden Rule also seemed to preclude lying, cheating, and keeping what was not yours.
Somehow in Stockbridge, there was a time when folks knew the rules and the reasons. A time when they all accepted the same morals and mores, the same essential customs, and characteristics of this small, unique place. Once there was a Stockbridge Way — it was a nice way to live.
Carole Owens, Managing Editor
Towering fern. Photo: Jay Rhind