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Editorial: What Shames Us? What Makes Us Proud?

Last week brought reflections about our inclination as humans to feel a collective shame or pride from the actions of others. Certainly, both Sarah and Emily Hughes have brought great pride to Great Neck. We have watched both young women face challenges in the glare of great media attention, sometimes skating flawlessly and at other times taking a hard fall. It is to their credit that they take their wins gracefully and their falls resiliently, getting up and continuing to skate. It is a life lesson to emulate even if you’ve never put on a pair of skates.

However the park district commissioners decide to honor and recognize the Hughes sisters, their place in our hearts is secure.

It was rather surprising to hear someone at a public meeting last week indicate that his feelings of greatest shame for Great Neck swirled around the now-famous SAT scandal that broke into worldwide news last summer. While it was a harsh spotlight, our overriding feeling became one, not of shame, but of pride. Why? The adults in charge did not do a cover-up. At the time, there were those who derided the decision to take the information about cheating to the Nassau District Attorney’s office. They felt the incidents should be “handled internally” and just kept quiet. It would have saved our community notoriety, but it would have done nothing to reform a poor system of standardized testing. It was a brave stance. Haven’t we learned by now that so many human missteps can be forgiven, if we ‘fess up?

And then last week, the cherry on top of the whipped cream sundae of shame and bad publicity was the announcement from a Toronto-based Internet site that helps match up folks in search of a partner for infidelity that we, Great Neckers are... great neckers and more...scoring first in their cheating members’ ZIP codes. While some folks recoiled in shame and horror at the “honor” of first place, others commented on it with a mixture of humor and cynicism. “Three percent cheat? That’s all?” said a friend.

It was a great marketing ploy. Who had ever heard of the company before? Well, maybe that 3 percent here in town. For once, maybe the connection was more related to affluence. In most communities, cheaters may tend to find each other the old-fashioned way, in the workplace.

From our vantage point, we see a great many people who consistently strive to make this a better, healthier, safer, and more compassionate community. Some of them make the news. Many others never enter the spotlight. They just quietly do the right thing. You can be proud.

-Carol Frank