From legions of volunteers helping to rescue individuals and animals, offering assistance, supplies, or just prayers for hurricane victims, to a village gathering in unity, to golfers donating to a food pantry, to surfers sharing their skills with kids and, yes, even to a Flanders fellow stepping up to be the first to install a high-tech septic system to protect the environment, the theme this week on the East End was public participation.
It wasn't the government.
It wasn't elected officials.
It was We The People, out in droves this week helping. Simply helping. Helping by opening our checkbooks, opening our hearts, opening our mouths, shining a light on need both local and afar and coming forward to do what we could. This is the spirit of our island and our nation – the compulsion to help, the drive to set aside paltry political differences and band together in time of crisis.
We don't need to make America great "again." The selfless acts of heroism and heart we've seen this week reminds us who we are. Let's remember. And, once the flood waters recede in Florida, once the surface waters test clean in Flanders, let's not forget. Let's not walk away from our obligation to continue to help. And, yes, while we may enjoy critiquing our elected officials, lasering in on disputes and defects, let's not put it all on them.
This week showed us how strong citizens can be when they are engaged.
This week showed us the profound value of public participation, and what individuals can do for suffering neighbors.
"Ask not. . ."