Connections: Tuesday’s Child

I am thankful that Cyber Monday was followed by Giving Tuesday

What am I feeling thankful for this week?  

I am thankful that, like most Americans, I live a life insulated from the various calamities and wars going on elsewhere in the world.

I am thankful that I, like most of us in East Hampton, am safe and secure enough to be able to pursue personal well-being and the well-being of those I am close to.

I am not thankful for the fact that this country is often defined by the accumulation of material goods‚ though there appears to have been a silver lining of sorts on Black Friday 2015: Despite the popular circulation in social media of grotesque videos of shopping as blood sport, this year there were reportedly fewer riots than in other recent years. I guess that’s something?

Although I think assigning nicknames to certain days is silly, I am thankful that Cyber Monday was followed by Giving Tuesday. In case you haven’t heard, Giving Tuesday is when charitable organizations drum up donations; in my case, I got appeals from a slew, including cultural institutions close to home and groups fighting hunger abroad. 

I was especially thankful this week for those from the East End who turned away from their own Thanksgiving-feast opportunities to step out and help others. A Star associate editor, Joanne Pilgrim, was among those who traveled to Greece last week to offer what help she could to the refugees landing on the island of Lesbos in search of peace and a bit of the security we tend to take for granted.

Doug Kuntz, a contributing Star photographer, has gone back and forth to Lesbos in the last two months not only to chronicle the hardships of those attempting to find safe havens but to help direct funds to where they are most needed. East End Cares, an organization based in Montauk — founded to help Long Islanders after Superstorm Sandy — not only sent clothing and needed goods but also was able to send medical supplies and equipment to Lesbos at the same time it organized volunteers to fly over. I am grateful to them all. 

This week is also an appropriate time to commend those protesters around this country who are raising the veil behind which we as a people have hidden the truths about racial inequity and injustice in the criminal justice system. 

On the other end of the gratefulness spectrum, however, I am definitely not singing any hosannas for the slate of hopefuls seeking the Republican nomination to run for president. These are not great days for the Grand Old Party. I would call the spectacle tragicomic, but, really, for those of us who take pride in American democracy, it is just plain sad.

Donald Trump represents the worst in human nature: greed, self-interest, xenophobia, cruelty, belligerence, pride, vanity, and an absolute lack of mercy or respect for those weaker, meeker, or poorer than himself. He scares me. During Thanksgiving week, he took pains to denigrate not just the undocumented immigrants living among us, but refugees, as well. When debating political questions, many of us bandy about the term “fascist” much too casually, but I believe that a Donald Trump presidency would be fascist by all real definitions.

The choices Fox News and CNN made about who would be on the main stages for the Republican debates — and consequently who took the mantle of principal contenders — has been a bit disturbing, too, because those choices were based on polling. An analysis of polling and public opinion surveys by Jill Lepore in the Nov. 16 New Yorker magazine, “Politics and the New Machine,” casts doubt not only on polls’ and surveys’ validity but on the assumption that they are, in the end, democratic. 

Good journalism, like hers, is also something to be thankful for.