This Month from Cliff
July 21, 2016
Last week we took our eight-year-old granddaughter, Orly, to Broadway to see Aladdin and it was magical. It had all the bells and whistles of a Disney production including a great genie and an amazing flying carpet. Orly loved it and we loved it. We also spent four of Orly’s ten days with us on Fire Island, another magicaltime of fun, surf and sand. Orly immediately bonded with our seven-year-old surrogate granddaughter, Cece, and they were inseparable the whole time and played from dawn till dusk. Fire Island is a special place and the residents on Water Isle have created an amazing bond. Our friend, Ken, has spent the last four decades at his family compound on the narrow strip of sand between the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Ken calls it “Summer Magic.”
As a child, my summers were also magical. I grew up in Dallas on a quiet residential street with lots of kids the ages of my siblings and me. We had croquet and badminton tournaments, soft ball and lots of play. Our home was “playground central” as we had a large backyard. Located in the back half was a “playhouse” with electricity and running water. The first owners of the home raised pigeons, but my father transformed the pigeon coop into a building that was sometimes a school house, a castle and often a fort as we were got older and into “cowboys and Indians.” It was fun and it was “Summer Magic.
Now, for me, this is a summer of “discontent” and I watch and experience the unrest and turmoil of what has become “a long hot summer.” I am struggling with what to say to our students, our faculty and staff when they return in the fall, and I am left wondering -- how do I engage our special college community in exploring how we can maintain an open community where all are free to be exactly who they are -- and how can we help shape the future of a more peaceful and tolerant country. I know I can’t simply wave a wand and “make magic,” but I can foster open communication that, hopefully, looks to the world as we wish it were. I used to worry about children in war-torn countries not ever having “Summer Magic” and now I equally worry about your children, our children, my grandchildren and children of the world. How do we give them a childhood of peace? How can we as the RCC community help re-create a world where children can truly be children? I wish every child could have the freedom that Orly had at Fire Island or the freedom I enjoyed as a child in Dallas. However, the reality is that that is not what is experienced by many others. As a world, as a nation, as a community, we have to do something about that.