Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Hawthorn Hill

August 23, 2012


COOPERSTOWN — We often make reference to the value of community. Unfortunately, of late it appears that what is perhaps our most important source of social and cultural cohesion is circling down the drain at a fast clip.

It is often said that politics is local. Sadly, that is not the case anymore. It used to be that residents of communities decided the outcomes of their elections.

Looking backward in time to New England, town meetings were the venue of choice for decision-making and the selection of individuals to serve in community designated leadership roles.

Granted, there are still places where such local control exists, but given recent Supreme Court decisions and the troubling degree to which obscenely wealthy ideologues can affect elections well beyond their own communities, it appears that, well, politics is not that local anymore. That is both a shame and a pity. As news reports have indicated, a handful of wealthy individuals has insinuated itself into local community life throughout the nation.

For instance, millions of outside dollars poured into Wisconsin prior to the recent recall election. The same outside groups unsuccessfully tried to alter the course of an election in Buffalo. The fact that they did not succeed is less significant that the fact that they were able to exert any influence at all. Now that the Supreme Court has determined that money is speech, an absolutely ludicrous view of the speech act itself, moneyspeak is wending its ugly tendrils through the very fabric of American community life.

One can never know for sure just how much all that dough has altered individuals’ thinking. Frankly, it does not matter. That it can happen seems to me a national tragedy rife with disturbing consequences. Underlying much of our current discourse these days is a passionate defense of individual liberty. Not the sort that allows one to pursue happiness. No one would argue against such a noble aim. No, it is a sense of individuality rooted in greed, selfishness and, a very distorted sense of what it means to be a member of a civil society, whether local, regional, or national. In most cases it translates into a notion that the individual should be free to do whatever he chooses, no matter the consequences to others. No one, for instance, would argue against the right of an individual to own property.

Text Only
Hawthorn Hill
  • A farewell essay More years ago than I care to contemplate, I very sheepishly sent a column in fully expecting it would be rejected. Lo and behold, it appeared shortly thereafter and for almost twenty years now I have have written these bi-weekly columns, first under the heading of "The Timely Writer" for The Freemans Journal and, for the last several years as "Up on Hawthorn Hill" with the Cooperstown Crier.

    July 17, 2014

  • Writing in the age of ad hominisms This past week several readers of these columns have asked about my absence of late. The honest answer is that there are times when the well runs a bit dry and one’s enthusiasm for forcing words on to the page wanes.

    June 26, 2014

  • Robinson novels show grace, intelligence I have been reading the novels of Marilynne Robinson the past several weeks. She writes with such grace and intelligence that I find myself rereading sections several times over to savor their exquisite taste and, in some instances, to make sure I have grasped the meaning of what she has written.

    May 1, 2014

  • Giving aid to Cornell at my window For quite a few years now I have participated in Cornell's Project Feeder Watch.

    April 10, 2014

  • Birder admits he confuses non-birding world I often run into people who ask me what it is about watching and studying birds that birders like me find so appealing.

    March 20, 2014

  • Olympics spirit in need of repair It is time to rethink what the Olympics ought to be about.

    February 27, 2014

  • Late night drive stirs morning man It has been a long time since my last stint at the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. Several days ago the phone rang at 1 a.m. Never a good sign. Within minutes I was in the car heading for Boston. The sun and I got there at about the same time. Fortunately, the late night emergency that required the trip has resolved itself, all is well, and I was able to head back home the following day.

    February 13, 2014

  • Shopping is never fun, simple I am not a shopper. Quick ins and outs are what appeal to me. The sooner the ordeal is over the better.

    January 16, 2014

  • Wondering if Holidays are worth the stress

    January 2, 2014

  • Laziness must be overcome An essayist in a weekly magazine, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, characterizes the past year as exhibiting an uncommon penchant for laziness.

    December 19, 2013