An Island Aroused© By Jack Schimmelman
The Cliffs of Aquinnah, Martha’s Vineyard – Used by Permission Martha’s Vineyard – home of the super rich. No. Martha’s Vineyard is a working-class/middle class community. It has a large nativeAmerican community populated by the Wampanoag tribe – first settlers. It is located in one of the poorest counties in Massachusetts. In the year-round community, alcoholism, drug addiction and domestic violence are not unknown visitors. Undoubtedly, these instances of abuse are fueled by poverty and isolation. The Vineyard is also blessed with a majority of residents who would do anything to help a neighbor or stranger in need. People generally are not interested in your resume or the accomplishments you’ve achieved across the water in the “real world.” They want to know the content of your character. Its humanity is the Island’s saving grace. Martha’s Vineyard gives new meaning to “salt of the earth.”
The response was overwhelmingly positive. an elderly gentleman with chronic health issues spoke to his friends at an Island senior center and asked if they wished to make a statement about gun violence in America. To say the island is a “sleepy” community during the off-season does not adequately describe the atmosphere. even though everyone was apprehensive of the pro-gun sentiment that existed on the Vineyard. They are weapons of war. sometimes in open fields near houses. Real estate agencies and their brokers do well. To leave one’s house to meet strangers during inhuman 2
. I suppose these laws reflect a traditional hunting culture. Television. but no tables. a down-island town. Then everyone must return so they can resume inhaling the extraordinary beauty and strong sense of community that one finds in nature’s elegance. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill banning such weapons. resembles a ghost. generously agreed to allow his church to be used as a meeting place. Every shop on Main Street is closed. Soon after this bill was introduced. a down-island town. The bill also called for universal background checks as well as a limit on weapon magazines. where the Vineyard is located. There are plenty of gun owners and some gun collectors.The majority of the economy depends upon servicing the wealthy. Times change. the universal fireplace. Martha’s Vineyard breathes poetry. Yet. even during the summer. boasts of some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. New Hampshire is one of the most lenient in the country. 2013. In the off-season. Local residents call the Vineyard “the rock. it is difficult for people just to meet friends on a cold winter night. Most of the Vineyard’s economy is tied up in real estate. Regarding gun control. Gun violence is not unknown on the Island. if you go north across the border to New Hampshire you can buy anything you want without a license or background check. Edgartown. except for a tiny diner that has only a counter. On January 24. The Rev. they decided to call a meeting to initiate a petition in support of Dianne Feinstein’s bill. Indeed. One endures the difficulties of living on the Vineyard year-round for no matter where you turn. The Vineyard also has a strong hunting community. Robert Hensley of Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven. He would not charge a fee. Targets change. there is no age requirement to carry a firearm. Newtown became one more horror piled upon a myriad of such events caused by automatic and semi-automatic weapons. On the island.” In the winter it is everyone’s dream to get off the rock at least for a short period of time. Massachusetts. There is a tradition of target practice. People like their rifles here. Jobs pay much lower than those on the mainland. hypnotizes. Nevertheless. Inertia reigns.
Yet. Let a thousand communities bloom in support of keeping our children safe. a call resonated throughout the island that on a Sunday in March. but word of mouth and some flyers posted around the Island. Retirees. And although there were several hunters who had contributed to the discourse. hundreds of signatures (and still counting) were obtained from people all over the Island.temperatures is verboten. Citizens intoned gentle harmonies of strength. Drivers honked their horns in support. friend and stranger greeted each other with optimism and what can only be described as love. veterans. More petitions were signed. Heeding a joyful cry. Although sunny. The meeting was billed as a dialogue regarding gun safety. invited by Rev.
. At the end it was decided that a petition that supported S-150 would be circulated. One gentleman educated the rest of the attendees as to the differences between weapons. dogs barked for no apparent reason and sunlight reflected soulful visions of a kind world. While spring modestly attired herself offstage. Drawn together by solemn events. No publicity. An island is aroused. Children and infants appeared. more than 100 people showed up at the busiest intersection in Vineyard Haven. And the dialogue was intense. temperatures chilled bones. as well as gun lovers and gun haters. Let’s honor the season. there would be a vigil honoring the children who have died from gun violence. A consensus was rooted in each person’s heart that our children must be protected from gun violence. most of the ministers of the Island would get involved in the petition drive. Others mused on whether it was too late to put a non-binding resolution supporting Senator Feinstein’s bill on the warrant of special town meetings. workers of every hue came. Nevertheless. Hensley. Weapons of mass destruction did not belong in the hands of civilians. with barely any publicity. everyone agreed. 25 people showed up on a frigid evening to discuss an urgent issue. The deadlines had passed. A few days later. The vigil would also support all legislative efforts to tighten gun control. those children are eternally present. One woman read out the names of the victims of Newtown and although each syllable was carried by the wind. Spring awakes.