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Hawthorn Hill

August 23, 2012




But is an individual free to then do whatever he wishes to that land, even if his actions adversely affect the community’s air, water, infrastructure, and environment? For instance, if I do something on my land that pollutes the air, possibly pollutes my neighbors’ wells and, at the very least, damages community infrastructure, what are the consequences to the common weal of the community? Seems to me the answer is obvious. There has always been tension between the individual and the community. Rousseau and others have written quite insightfully about that.

Like it or not, as another writer has put it, individual action and community action are inextricably linked. A community, after all, is a collection of individuals. We should not only look after one another (without being nosy or infringing on necessary privacies), but we should be stewards of the community we share.

That is why I find recent statements to the effect that, specifically with respect to hydrofracking, local communities are not capable of making informed decisions about its effects or permissibility patently offensive. It exhibits a troubling mix of ignorance and condescension - a toxic mix!

Life is, and always has been, local. Politics does not have a corner on the market. I would love to see legislation passed that prohibits foreign money from invading local elections. And I hope I am around when sanity regains its buoyancy and speech is restored to its rightful place in the conduct of national discourse. Speech is language. Money may facilitate speech, but it is not itself speech. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of these mega-billionaires so worried about their freedom to fill more barrels with cash would instead start a fund to provide scholarships for needy students or house the homeless. Do not hold your breath!

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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