November 4, 2011
How wonderful that we live in communities that still have hometown qualities.
In Amagansett on Halloween, the major road, Montauk Highway, was closed to traffic. As cars waited, small goblins, clowns, witches, and princesses, paraded down Main Street — safe and joyous.
Amagansett businesses all gave out treats, as did the Amagansett Fire Department.
How lucky we are, a community bound together, a true hometown, U.S.A.
Thank you, Amagansett School PTA, and to the many who participated.
Lost Its Soul
November 4, 2011
To the Editor,
I’m not quite sure how you feel about what has happened to our Main Street but I think it’s a crying shame! Dylan’s closing for the season was the final straw for me. It’s as though Main Street has lost its soul.
We’ve always had one or two shops close for January, but this is beyond a few fair-weather friends — this is critical mass. The number of vacant retail shops exceeds the number of occupied retail shops on Main Street.
Many of the “pop-ups” pulled up stakes immediately after Labor Day! And while the fall and holiday season has always been good to retailers, the problem with pop-ups is they are not really here to stay or add commerce to our beautiful village but rather to use our Main Street as a billboard for two months then grab their marbles and go off to greener pastures. Simply put, they have no interest in what is good for East Hampton Village. That said, when is our village going to do something about this? Of all the East End towns, East Hampton Village suffers the worst.
This summer I had a client tell me she calls my beautiful village “the unfriendly village.” O.M.G.! I was horrified. She said, “East Hampton is the only village that has one-hour parking. What can I do in one hour? I can’t shop in one hour, can’t go to the movies in one hour, can’t even go to lunch in one hour!”
Of course I mentioned the parking lot off Park Place, to which she replied, “Oh, right. Two hours. I’ll choke down my lunch and run through a store with no time to try anything on, but the movies are completely out.”
East Hampton Village mayor and board, may I suggest a rule? Stores need to be open a minimum of nine months a year and three days a week. And in a perfect world, landlords would care.
JUDI A. DESIDERIO
Town and Country Real Estate
November 5, 2011
Maybe you have the answer that you can share with taxpaying residents of Montauk as to why the Montauk Chamber of Commerce and one of its members question reserving a total of 25 parking spaces for residents in downtown lots.
My God! There are a total of about 1,000 legitimate parking spaces in downtown Montauk when you combine the available spaces in the public lots and on-street parking.
The chamber and the merchants, who are our neighbors and friends, should recognize that all year-round residents and second-home owners should be able to find parking spots when they drive into town to pick up their mail at the post office, not having to sweat out a parking spot when they’re rushing to get on a Hampton Jitney to New York City for a doctor’s appointment or a matinee, shop at the I.G.A., stop in for a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza, dine at Shagwong, shop at White’s, or shop for clothes, fishing gear, sporting goods, and beachwear, souvenirs, postcards, and whatever.
We live here and our bucks support most of the infrastructure and amenities that Montauk offers. Without us, there would be no business district.
October 24, 2011
The redesign of the Amagansett I.G.A. parking lot is a disaster. The concept was good, but the effect is horrible. There is now always confusion and congestion.
Cars are now directed to exit by the post office by one-way arrows. Then they must turn in front of the incoming traffic from Montauk Highway. There is often a line of eastbound cars on Montauk Highway waiting to turn left to go to the post office. These cars are watching the traffic on the highway, waiting their turn to cross over. As they enter the parking lot, they are often surprised by cars crossing directly in front attempting to exit the I.G.A. parking lot, as directed by the one-way arrows.
Vehicles exiting the I.G.A. lot are not controlled by a stop sign and are on the right of the vehicles coming off the highway. Should they or should they not yield? The person entering the lot must then brake to avoid collision with the person exiting the lot, creating a problem for the third person, behind, trying to also cross Montauk Highway to enter the lot. It is a mess.
If one tries to park in the section next to the Atlantic liquor store and the Amagansett fish market, one-way arrows point you to go up against the tacky fence to a dead end. With the addition of the fence, there is no exit. If one does follow the arrows to the dead end and parks next to the fence in the last spot in front of the fish market, there is no way to get out without going back the wrong way on the one-way street.
Getting out of the last parking spot is very tricky; one must back up inches from the front door of the fish market, negotiating the turn several times to avoid hitting the curb and surprising pedestrians. Then one has to drive against the arrows to exit. Prior to the redesign, one could conveniently swing into the parking spaces in front of the fish market, conduct business, and easily exit. Removal of the fence would be helpful.
If one is to park on the street side of the small lot in front of the liquor store and the fish market, he is faced with a “Do Not Enter” sign upon exiting and must either drive wrongfully down a one-way street to exit or drive down to the crowded post office exit.
One of the best things about the old I.G.A. lot was its easy access to parking. This new design has created dangerous bottlenecks, affects the highway flow, and is extremely confusing to negotiate.
Protect the Ears
November 1, 2011
To the Editor,
Protect the ears of the 99 percent from the noisy 1 percent — occupy East Hampton Airport!
November 6, 2011
To the Editor,
I am writing this safely past Election Day as I do not intend it to be party specific in any way. The great cloud that has hung over East Hampton politics during our last two election cycles has been the financial crises of the McGintee administration. But what I have rarely read or heard concerning it is any attempt to put it into the context of what was happening nationally and locally in all of our states, counties, and towns.
I have no intention in any way to excuse what was done in East Hampton, though finally the lack of a true public airing has left mysteries as to exactly who did what, when, and which, if any, actions were truly illegal. (Though use of the preservation fund was clearly beyond imprudence.) It remains perhaps relevant that no accusations of personal gain have ever emerged, at least publicly.
But we should not forget that tens of thousands of people in this country either lost their homes or remain saddled with debt greater than the current value of their homes. State, county, and local governments throughout the country are having enormous problems meeting their obligations to their citizens on one hand, their creditors on the other. The unemployment rolls remain dangerously high and more of our citizens are falling into genuine poverty than we could have imagined just four or five years ago.
The entire country was on a spending spree and financial prudence was simply out of fashion. The prices of real estate were soaring beyond any reasonable level. Home prices went to levels that placed home ownership no longer in reach of the bulk of the middle class, and those who had homes were seduced into refinancing by the lenders and a complicit advertising industry at levels that they simply could not afford, or at least would not be able to afford when the bubble burst, as it inevitably would.
So yes, our community too had overspent, had used “available” funds to cover expenses probably projecting that next year’s taxes would be able to cover up the questionable loans. But when the economy collapsed like a punctured balloon, the jig was up. Nevertheless East Hampton, with its large number of high-end vacation houses to buoy up its tax roles and its relatively small student population, has some of the lowest local taxes on Long Island. (Just look through the Friday real estate section of Newsday — the taxes on modest houses to the west of us will take your breath away.)
Ironically, with relatively modest tax increases rather than a truly negligible decrease, the town could probably have bought its way out of its problems in a fairly short time. I admit that $30 million is a lot of money, but there are more than a few individual houses in this town selling for more than that.
As I said at the beginning I have no interest in defending the actions of the McGintee administration, but let’s at least include the national context to understand them more fully.
November 2, 2011
The letter that was sent by the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee to the town justices, and that was sent to other members of the town, tried to make the town justices responsible for not adjudicating the 640 code violations against the Surf Lodge located in Montauk.
It is the obligation of the town prosecutors to bring a sound case against the Surf Lodge so that the town justices can adjudicate the case. I sat in Justice Court on Oct. 3 and watched the proceeding of [alleged] violations of the town code.
When the Surf Lodge citations were presented it was obvious to me as a spectator that neither the defense attorney nor the town’s prosecuting attorney was ready. Therefore, the town judge had to reschedule another hearing on the charges. I wonder if another stalling tactic will be used on the next hearing date.
The town attorney must present a firm case so that the Town Justice Court can adjudicate. The obligation is on the town attorney.
Printed With Gusto
November 6, 2011
To the Editor:
I am taking the time to write this very important letter to you, David Rattray, and any readers you may have left, because I feel it is important that I point out to you and your mom that I have never, ever advocated for writing a letter to this paper (this would be my third? fourth? in over 22 years), buying it, or advertising in it. Although once or twice in the last 15 years I have paid for “For Sale” or “For Rent” ads, inevitably I regret having written a check payable to The Star for $100 or $200 dollars. Although you truly have some fabulous people working for you and I don’t begrudge them a paycheck, I honestly cannot imagine why they do it.
I’m happy that no one has to pay to read the legal notices printed in this “Newspaper of Record” that “Shines For All” now, because the paper is available online. Thus, if I have to read these important notices or choose to read other news articles or Lyle Greenfield’s letters (bless his heart), I can now read “The Trash,” as I have fondly referred to this paper for over 15 years, for free!
As an aside, I read the e-mail comments listed under your endorsement of Zach Cohen regarding the Rattray family’s desire to sell land it owns to the town using the community preservation fund. I wasn’t aware of this fact until a reader called you on it. Keep up the good work regarding transparency! Why don’t you just donate that land? I would truly appreciate that gesture from you and your family!
In light of the above, I must say your unabashed, unrelenting tendency to skewer the facts, report untruths as news (sometimes with small corrections often appearing weeks later in small print somewhere in the B, or Sports section, if at all), and to leave out salient portions of interviews (or not even interview those named in an article at all — that’s always refreshing!) has spurred me to write on the eve of the 2011 elections. Regardless of the outcome of this election, as a resident and a member of a committee who sat there as this paper endorsed and basically covered up the actions of an administration for six years, I was never, ever, in favor of spending a dime to advertise in this paper, or trying to attempt to defend or respond to the biased, prejudicial, half-truth positions you espouse in your editorials.
Obviously there were those on the committee who disagreed with me this year because they felt they had to respond to the lies, innuendo, and rumors printed with gusto in this paper, and sadly they thought people might actually read and believe what was written in the full-page ads taken out by the Conservators. Oh well. I don’t think people in this town are so naive. So, happy holidays to you with those advertising dollars.
Unlike Alec Baldwin’s proclamation that he would move away if a certain person was elected to office, which he didn’t do (and we who frequent Guild Hall and the library, and those who have children in the East Hampton Day Care Center are very thankful for that), I am certain that the people who work, live, and vote here, regardless of party affiliation, will make the right choices in order for the town to move forward in the right direction in a few days. So I won’t be making any silly proclamations, other than these: I will never spend my hard-earned dollars advertising in this paper again, and encourage others who are interested in unbiased news to do the same. And I will never waste a dollar buying this paper as it may encourage you to continue to write and print the most outrageously biased articles (passed off as fact) that people may actually believe are true.
Ms. Piette is a member of the East Hampton Republican Committee. Ed.
November 4, 2011
When I collect my Star each week, I glance at the headlines and then quickly turn to Section B to read the “Guestwords” and “Relay” columns. I suppose that’s because I’m a writer and I love to read what other writers are thinking about.
I found this week’s piece by John de Cuevas very interesting, as I, too, have been drawn to the story of Temple Grandin ever since first learning about her in one of Oliver Sacks’s fascinating books. I was so curious that I sent Dr. Sacks a letter, which he passed to Dr. Grandin. If she was so comfortable with animals, but yet had attachment issues, did she own any pets, I asked.
A while later, I received a hand-written note from her! She confirmed her special affinity for animals, but doesn’t own pets. She wrote, “Due to an extremely busy schedule, I can’t give them the care they need.”
Anyway, thanks for “Guestwords” this week, but where was “Relay”?
No leaves to turn.
No colors to see.
Nothing to learn
from a naked tree.
Is there a fall then?
Will winter come?
There’s such a wind,
one’s senses are dumb.
But the ocean is grand.
The surf at its best.
So forget the land,
and to hell with the rest.
ALICE M. GREGORY
October 31, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
This is the dramatic conclusion of the meandering yet thought-provoking letter that I submitted to your paper on Oct. 17 and that you mutilated in an editorial hatchet job that makes Freddy Kruger seem like a physical therapist.
Before I begin, however, I would like to acknowledge the passing of one of my readers and a dear friend of the family, Nancy Mulligan of Amagansett. She fought a rare illness with courage and dignity for many years before finally slipping from her physical anguish last week.
Nancy was a loving wife and the adoring mother of four handsome boys. As a pediatric nurse, she was herself a caregiver, thoughtful and gentle, a person who could be counted on by all who knew her. At the reception following her funeral Mass at Most Holy Trinity Church on Oct. 28, one of her sons said to me, “My mother loved your letters. Whenever she saw one in the paper she would call me up and read it to me.” Hearing those words touched me, and at the same time made me question her judgment. Oh well, Nancy is in heaven and I’m sitting here typing this thing, so who’s to question? Amen.
Summer seemed to end with a door slam, didn’t it? It was barely mid-August when we drove my daughter and grandson to J.F.K. for their return to Miami. He was starting his junior year of high school one week later. Six feet tall, broad-shouldered, on the basketball team, and here’s grandpa, 5-foot-7-something, and shrinking. What the hell?
From the airport, Mary and I drove directly to Saratoga to visit her mother in the assisted living facility known as Home of the Good Shepherd. HOGS, as the family is fond of calling it. This is a lovely, well-run place, with an amazing staff of people who are all far nicer and more patient than me. Jean resides in a “memory care” home on the HOGS campus with 16 or so other elderly women in various stages of Alzheimer’s disease. When we arrived in midafternoon we could see through the front doors a number of ladies enthusiastically engaged in a game of balloon volleyball in the dining room.
Inside, we said our big hellos, hugging and kissing Jean and greeting the other ladies. She seemed happy to see us and even remembered my name. Then, moments later, she resumed play with the other golden girls, knocking the balloon over the net strung across a couple of dining tables. “Come on! You should play!” she yelled to us, her shoulders heaving with laughter. Jean was safe and healthy, well cared for, memories of her life in Amagansett receding to a distant place.
Mary and I took her mom out for an early dinner off campus, a place called the Ripe Tomato — an old-fashioned family joint with wood paneling, checkered tablecloths, paintings and photographs of tomatoes on the walls, and a certain musty smell. It was perfect. Jean finished her burger and most of her fries. I killed the tuna melt, Mary the Caesar salad. “Isn’t this a great place?” my mother-in-law said.
The next day we decided to keep things familiar and went back to the Ripe Tomato for lunch. “Have you ever been to this place before?” Jean asked me. “Just once, Jean, and I loved it!” Jean isn’t thinking about Occupy Wall Street, Mr. Rattray. And she’s not thinking about Arab Spring.
On the drive back to sweet home Amagansett we decided to first spend the night in our small apartment in Manhattan. In order to determine the best route into the city we phoned a trusted friend who strongly recommended avoiding the Tappan Zee and the G.W., staying on Route 17 through New Jersey, right into the Lincoln Tunnel. Wonderful.
I knew that I knew better than to follow this advice, but alas, I am a sheep. As we approached the chaos of major construction and intentionally deceptive signs to the Lincoln Tunnel, a sense of remorse came over me. The Manhattan skyline was now in the rear view, and signs for Newark began to appear. I suggested to Mary that we seek instruction at the nearest gas station and she numbly agreed. Moments later I pulled the yellow Focus into a small refueling outpost that I prayed was operated by Americans. (For obvious reasons, my prayers are seldom answered.) A friendly man wearing a turban informed us, “You must go back four lights and then make a left and then look for a sign and then bear right.” I bowed and thanked him, filled the tank and away we went. Clear. Relieved.
Wake up, Mr. Rattray, it’s almost over. Within 45 minutes (it was now rush hour) we had reached the “approach” to the Lincoln. This enormous loop leading to some minuscule orifice beneath the Hudson River was packed with vehicles in all lanes, like a terrible digestive event. I began to be aware that I needed to urinate and that a potentially unsolvable problem could arise prior to the expiration of the hour it would now take to reach the other side of the river. A river filled with a tremendous amount of water, flowing constantly. I looked out the windows of my not moving car and quickly realized that there would be no “Rest Area Ahead,” no wooded patch to pull over and run to. I saw no door marked “Restroom” inside the car.
I decided to summon my strength and will, to force my bladder to read “half full.” But 20 minutes later, still outside the tunnel, I began perspiring, which is not the same as peeing. Mary said, “I have a Poland Spring bottle.” I replied, “I don’t think that will work for me, but thanks.” Ten minutes later I began giving myself last rites and finally said, “Mary, I’m going to stop here, get out of the car, and sit on your side. You are going to drive while I try to figure something out.” “Okay,” she said. (This will be a great story for her to tell at my wake; remind her, okay, Mr. Rattray?)
Once on the passenger side I gazed out the windows again. My car was shorter than the other vehicles, allowing the occupants to look down on me. Especially the Hasidic gentlemen packed into an old bus to my immediate right. Am I profiling? It’s just that they were all wearing black hats and had long curly sideburns. Did they know what was happening? A certain clarity washed over my being. I will never see these people again, I knew. I reached for the empty water bottle.
I’ve moved on, Mr. Rattray, to other digressions. But this one I dedicate to Nancy. Hopefully, she’ll take it the right way (otherwise, I’m screwed).
May your cup never runneth over,
No Real North Star
October 29, 2011
To the Editor,
As the 21st century of the modern age settles upon us and brings with it its new, virtual realities, it is increasingly apparent that re-establishing our organic connection to the Earth and the physical reality is more important that ever.
Although mankind has tried from the beginning to improve its comfort-ability level, and survival probability in the physical reality, never before in our history, here in human form on this planet, have we been presented with circumstances within which to live as we have today — and we created them.
Our natural world hasn’t really changed that much in the 10,000 or so years that we’ve been attempting to civilize it, but our perceptions of it have. Our planet Earth, the third considerable mass of matter outward from our sun, and its atmospheric environment which allows for the existence of our carbon-based life forms, still circles around the sun as it has in one form or another over four billion times. Held in quasi-perpetual orbit by the logical forces of matter, mass, and gravity, the Earth and its place in this universe has been our home and our teacher — offering us opportunities to experience the yin and the yang, the positive and the negative, and the joy and the pain that can exist in the physical reality to feel, enjoy, and learn from. However, today’s life experience for many is clouded with illusion and confusion, which generally lead to frustration, and anger, and unsatisfying lives.
This is a cause and effect reality. It’s easy to see what’s happened if you watch what’s going on.
Our desire for short-term human comforts through machinery and technology has separated us from the Earth and its lessons and truths. We’ve lost sight of our true guiding forces; nature and its cycles of life and death have truly become a nonentity in most people’s life experience and therein lies the root of our societal situation today. The effects or manifestations that we see today, like the killings at Columbine and the myriad other events that chronicle a civilization in disharmony, are a natural result of our disconnection with the Earth and the true physical reality, and the replacement of these by a kinder and gentler reality that’s easier to take — one consisting of television, cyberspace, and consumerism — this is the new and improved reality dot-com, created by man, mostly since the Industrial Revolution, but turbocharged and largely defined by the invention and assimilation of television into our society.
Like it or not, television, computers, and movies are the teachers of the day. Unlike nature however, the messages of these mediums, the programming and content, are brought to you by entities with their own agendas, limitations, and perspectives. Agendas that involve selling a point of view, a product or something else, limitations of human knowledge and perspectives subject to individual experience.
As I write this I am surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of nature as it expresses itself as the forest at Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, R.I. I have come here as an assistant scout leader for our troop, as I have several times before. As I watch and assist our group of young boys preparing themselves for a week of living within nature and testing their levels of personal best through the pursuit of individually chosen merit badges, I think it’s time that we realized how we have distanced ourselves from the real truths of our existence. Scouting, and its fundamental reliance on nature and the Earth as a learning environment for self-reliance and personal responsibility, offers our children and ourselves a true mirror for the reflection of who we are, and what we can do.
By taking the spin out of the life experience (no pun intended), nature lets us see ourselves as we truly are. It does not allow us the illusion of who we tend to think we are when we are mirrored by an artificial reality of sound bytes and altered images, air-brushed, sanitized, and presented to us just so, to create a specific response and, if we don’t like that particular brand of reality, just change the channel or the Web address and find a reality that reflects back an image that we choose to see. One that makes us feel a little less uncomfortable, or a little more detached. We no longer try to adjust the strength of our character or skills, it’s easier to change the reality by changing the channel, finding a friendlier chat room, or buying that new transportation vehicle at no money down, so that those around us will view us how we want to be seen by them and ourselves. (Pay no attention to that man inside my skin; I am the great and powerful Oz.)
Scouting and nature defy that probability. Every functional human being would like to live their life to its fullest potential. In order to successfully acquire the skills necessary to navigate the physical reality as a human being, you need situations void of the spin to gauge true growth, understanding, and skill level. Nature doesn’t B.S. you. Television, computers, and movies, however, will tell you anything you want to hear about yourself to make you like them and buy their products. This creates a false sense of everything, with no real North Star, or fixed point of reference for the navigation of one’s own evolution. The experiences associated with the tree in the woods that needs to be turned into firewood, then somehow caused to combust in order to prepare food for one’s own sustenance, and the subsequent cleaning of utensils for the elimination of bacteria that can turn potentially harmful, offer myriad opportunities for the true reflection of one’s real level of skill, determination, problem-solving, and compassion, and consideration for others less skilled or fortunate. It also provides a necessary reflection of the alternative reality that we live in, expecting to experience instant gratification and undisturbed comfort all our lives. It helps to experience the yin to know the value of the yang.
When these and other like circumstances occur in scouting, of course it’s opportune for all that these skills are taught by others of wisdom; gurus who have gone before — parents, leaders, and older scouts. The problem is, how many that have gone before take the time to pass these skills along to enhance the life experience of the young? How much are we, collectively as a society, showing up to teach and guide? Not enough, as the events occurring around us scream through our television sets, newspaper headlines, and Internet services; children actually killing other children in imitation of movie scenes and composite images of violence as presented in film, television, and video games. Images viewed over and over and over again, desensitizing our entire society and manifesting forth as our eventual reality.
Our children are becoming virtual children. Now, through cyberspace, man has actually created a new dimension or universe within the physical reality, a task previously left to God (truth), nature, or the universe, depending on your particular label, but certainly not mankind. The 21st century will be the most man-made experience ever, and most of it will be at odds with the forces of the physical reality.
We continue to defy death with medical science so that today’s generation has possible life expectancies of 150-200 years, or more descriptively, trips around our sun. How many careers will they have? How many marriages and full families will they have? What are the ethics and etiquette for this society? Cloning and euthanasia — where do they fit in? These are the questions that our children face, and they, not us, will be making the decisions on how to implement the new technologies. We owe the future of mankind the knowledge and wisdom that nature shows us in its continuing cycles; wisdom that only comes from respecting and understanding the forces in the physical reality, and having the patience to allow it to teach us, and whenever possible, the guidance of one who has gone before to help us find our way.
Scouting is not just a vehicle for children to learn about the world around them, but it is also a vehicle for parents and adults to teach, and communicate with, the children, to pass on skills, and to experience the wonders and wisdom of life.
Today’s adult generation is the connecting point in a sea of change in man’s existence on Earth. Our parents, and all those who came before them, were humans living in an analog state. Today’s children, those born after, say, 1980 are the first true digital generation. They take all their cues from electronic delivery systems. They have spent their lives since early childhood exposed to, taught, and influenced by computers, television, VCRs, Game Boys, and personal stereos. The messages and corresponding emotions that are experienced through these devices are to a human being no less real than the smell of a pie cooling on a window ledge was in analog times. The chemical and emotional reactions within the human body are no different for an imagined experience than a real one. As children spend hour after hour in front of a screen watching television, playing video games, surfing the Net, or watching movies, the images ingrain themselves within the consciousness, and alter the individuals’ perception of reality, no differently than a soldier who constantly suffers the horrors of war either eventually begins to take death in stride without feeling or goes insane. The soldier at least has the benefit of responding to real life circumstances and has faced true mortality, possibly learning valuable truths. The children aren’t that lucky. They are forced to respond to artificial stimuli created by viewing images that are created by illustrators, graphic artists, and advertisers, all to sell products — even if they’re educational ones.
You can’t tell what’s real anymore, and neither can your brain. This Earth has always been an illusionary place. To most people our Sun still rises, and sets every day. We know that the Earth revolves around our Sun, but because of our limited perspective, and the power of suggestion from previous generations, most think our Sun moves, not us. Cyberspace and all of its digitized, manipulated imagery indeed complicates the puzzle even further.
Today’s adults are the analog to digital, or A to D generation in mankind’s technological evolution. They are the connecting link between two different worlds, much as electromechanical devices are required to convert digital displays to mechanical actions, and vice versa as related technologies evolve. This time it’s our species that’s going through the change.
All the wise men know that it is pretty much impossible to explain the physical reality directly. Most human minds are limited because of misuse, and lack of understanding, and tend to take or consider statements literally, which is not a good way to try to understand things. Most wise men use metaphor to try to present different perspectives for understanding, for to truly understand requires unlimited perspective. But where are the truthful metaphors for today? Before the Industrial Revolution, fathers and sons would work together as gatherers or hunters. As they spent time in nature, and responded to nature’s cycles, it was easy to see examples of life cycles, and the importance of understanding personal responsibility and logical consequences to actions in a cause and effect reality. As machinery and factories began to replace farming and hunting, the family unit suffered great stresses, and began to break down with the dad going to work in a factory, in close quarters of unnatural proportion, with machinery setting the pace, not nature.
Father and son were no longer together daily to touch and learn in a natural classroom. Dad worked in the factory under strange and new pressures, pressures that increased substance abuse in our society and other symptoms of neurosis, of our increasing disharmony with the natural world around us. The desire for the material things being produced by these factories to make our lives better produced overtime, second jobs, working children, and working mothers.
Everybody now goes their own way, with little time or inclination to even notice what’s being traded off. Mom drops off the baby at the learning center, without realizing that what the child is learning is that its mother is outsourcing its upbringing so that she can do more stuff during each rotation of the Earth. Older children spend much of their day looking at artificial images on a variety of screens, getting their manipulated virtual experience vicariously, while Dad strives to fulfill his manhood by making money so his family can enjoy things and know that he loves them.
Love is the answer: love of ourselves and who we really are, love of our children, and what we can do to teach them the truths of our existence, and the love of planet Earth as our home, our teacher, and our lifeline in the physical reality.
Scouting allows for all this, and more. It’s the situations and the circumstances that provide the environment for learning the meaning of phrases like be prepared, and do a good turn daily — a couple of good suggestions for an improved personal experience here in the physical reality. The scouting program and nature together provide a valuable environment for the understanding and implementation of these values into a boy’s — and maybe an adult’s — life.
Think about it: These values were important when the human spirit had only to deal with one reality at a time. Today’s generation must deal with two at once; navigating the evolving, natural physical reality while pushing the envelope and living the unknown consequences of the technology-based virtual reality that we are all entering.
That’s going to take being repaired.
RICHARD M. KOSTURA