When I think of what I’d like this country to be, I think, as probably many others here do, of Bonac.
It is no Eden — as was particularly evident in the apparent suicide of a young Latino high school student here this past week — but one gathers that despite the anguish and contention (my father once said, based on his reading over time of this paper’s letters to the editor, that ours was the most contentious community in the nation), there is within the populace a sense of possibility that transcends the more mundane (yet legitimate) concerns of survival and advancement, however one wants to define it.
Yet the majority, the great majority, here do seem to care about one another, especially when someone is dealt a cruel blow.
That this is a beautiful and, at times, serene place may have a salutary effect, inclining our by-and-large lucky residents, sharers of so much natural wealth, to be more generous when it comes to contributing financially or in kind to the welfare of others.
In this regard, it was interesting to read in this paper not long ago that wealthy residents on the East End donate 8 percent of their income to charities (local ones, it is hoped), an exception apparently to the “rule” that the richer you get the stingier you become.
Bonac’s widespread communal spirit is evident, moreover, in our fire departments and ambulance squads, our lifeguards, the Ladies Village Improvement Society, Meals on Wheels, the food pantries, the Old Montauk Athletic Club, the Kendall Madison Foundation, East End Hospice, Ellen’s Run, the Hamptons marathon, and the Artists-Writers softball game, for starters — one of the more recent examples being the successful Springs Booster Club drive which raised in just a few weeks more than the $35,000 needed so that Springs School could continue to be combined in certain junior high sports with the East Hampton Middle School.
Indeed, Bonac is far from Eden; though at its best it is, I think, the best America has to offer.