Editor: I’m struck by the prevalence of fear and rage in this community.

People who are alive in this country today are among the most fortunate of any who have ever lived, and we reside in a beautiful city that is safe and offers a high quality of living. Nevertheless, many residents seemingly live in a constant state of panic over the possibility that someone else is going to take away everything they have worked hard to acquire.

Incited by populist politicians and media provocateurs who insist against all evidence that America is less safe than ever, they direct their anger at the attackers they imagine storming the gates - immigrants, the homeless, “Antioch people” – anyone who is different and seen as undeserving. They call those of us who are not perpetually alarmed – or who counsel care and concern for such people – naïve, or worse.

In our best times, communities have welcomed newcomers, cared for the less fortunate, and found a balance that allowed people to strive for personal success and fulfillment while also contributing to the good of the society. Currently, we seem to be living in a time of extreme individualism, in which people believe they alone are responsible for their success, they alone deserve the rewards they have accrued, and they alone are capable of defending themselves.

How isolating this must feel, and given the safety of our community and our country at large, how ironic.

Brentwood has the potential to be the peaceful, cohesive town everyone clearly wants, but we must avoid rising to the bait of fear, selfishness and bigotry. It must be possible to set aside our differences and confront the problems our community faces, and treat people who are different from us with humanity, not as problems to be rid of.

Joel Swett

Brentwood

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