Friday, December 29, 2006

"Fast Away the Old Year Passes..."

Sorry, dear reader, if my sudden penchant for titles in quotes is becoming tiresome. I think it's just a temporary aberration, so bear with me.

As the New Year looms on the horizon, we all tend to take stock of the past and assemble our hopes for the future. 2006 is notable, among other things, for launching yours truly into the blogosphere, but that's probably not one for the history books. Other than that, it's been a truly mixed bag of a year, with the international situation more fraught than ever, and the local scene not all that much better. Here in Greenwich we can be glad of a very succcessful new family business opening on the Avenue (Vineyard Vines), the reopening of the sanctuary at the First Presbyterian Church, and, on a personal level, the end of the AuthorBabe's never-ending divorce and her sudden discovery of new love (she and the NL are off on a cruise to the Bahamas even as I write).

On the downside, the rift between Town Hall and the RTM has widened, Da Vinci's restuarant has closed, and Bob Tate is in jail. As you all know, BTW, it has been famously said that a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich, so low is the level of "proof" necessary (and, of course, there is no opportunity to mount any kind of defense); your scribe, however, is a great believer in the increasingly quaint notion that everyone is presumed innocent until and unless proved otherwise. But in the ever-more paranoid world we live in post-9/11, many of our age-old rights have been jeopardized if not in fact downright abrogated in recent years. Let's add that to the negative side of the ledger.

And even as I write, something else occurs that is emblematic of what's been happening in this town of late: the increasingly rapid decline of civility and respect for the rules. Our town libraries have explicit rules banning the use of cellphones and the bringing of food on the premises. The yahoo next to me has just sat down with a bag of food, and was preparing to dig in when I went over to complain to a librarian. As I returned to my seat, he pointed at me and started to yell about the fact that I had turned him in. The fact that he was breaking the library rules by bringing in his food was not an issue in his mind; rather, I was clearly the one at fault. He continued to yell and be obnoxious, but there's never a security guard around when you need one. Just as when the SUVs illegally pass you going 60 in a 25 MPH zone, there's never a cop there to pull them over. The quality of life in this town, dear reader, is deteriorating at a rapid rate. And I do not see any likelihood that the trend will change soon.

Thus your scribe is not full of rosy optimism for 2007. If the Constitution and the rule of law are being increasingly eroded, and the rules of civility and of the road are being increasingly flouted, where do we go from here? Only downhill, I suspect.

Well, some will say it was ever thus, and there's a certain amount of truth in the fact that each generation seems to believe that things were better in the "good old days." Just ask your parents or grandparents, and you'll see what I mean. But there are, I believe, certain benchmarks by which a civilization is measured - or can measure itself - and it seems to me that 21st-century life in this town and in this country is falling increasingly short of those marks. Am I alone in this belief? Speak up, dear reader, and let me know what you think.


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