We live in a cynical age.
And the reasons that have made cynicism the defining vice of the times are many.
A look at recent American history can be blinding with examples of misguided and hypocritical leaders, many who were once skeptics but crossed lines into the camp of the cynics. And this is the place to give three cheers to the skeptics, who will hold fire and weigh a situation, never acting on either naiveté or the certainty that most human situations will end in tears.
Another reason for the triumph of the cynics is an aging mentality in the society, and it’s not just a population growing older in years. Where once Americans of any age were viewed — by themselves and other nationalities — as the youthful optimists at the table, now it seems everywhere you look you find wised-up sourpusses, also of all ages, scowling in the corner.
Add the bitter, carpet-bombing rhetoric that flows through websites and political discourse and cynicism never lacks fuel to keep powering on.
But there’s good news. Shelter Island officials are taking on a crisis of clean water, debating practical matters and searching for funds to pay for programs that can mitigate a problem that threatens all Islanders.
On another front, elected representatives and private citizens aren’t standing to the side throwing rocks at those who say the Island is the way it is and won’t change, particularly the way it looks. Supervisor Gary Gerth, Councilman Jim Colligan and others are beginning to question why the Center (and other parts of the town) are looking bedraggled at best and falling to pieces at worst.
There have been several efforts to change this over the last couple of years that never seemed to get out of the talking stage, with only piecemeal solutions suggested for the larger problem.
In January, Mr. Colligan put forth an idea to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by a Town Board resolution in 1994. A municipality’s comprehensive plan dictates policy on several fronts, including development, land use, transportation and housing.
A seven-month effort of discussion and research a decade ago produced an update to the plan, but the board rejected it.
Councilman Albert Dickson has said it might be time to revisit that community-led search for answers. And we agree. The issues of water, affordable housing and land use require cynics to abandon their posturing and pitch in to help.
Oh, and Wednesday, March 20, at 5:58 a.m. the sun was situated perfectly over the equator, meaning spring had arrived in our hemisphere. Piping plovers and ospreys are on the wing.
It’s been mentioned before but bears repeating, that Emily Dickinson was right when she wrote:
“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul …”