2001-04-14 / Columnists



By James Conway Sullivan

What is going on here? As Rockaway continues to have Public Schools that realize horrendous scores on reading and math, as any stroll on the boardwalk will make us recognize the toll the winter storms have taken on our lovely beach fronts, as hungry and poor people continue to live and suffer in the Rockaways, while the death of unborn children continues unabated, while dozens of real problems plague us, what is going on? Our local paper continues to report large turnouts about the 116 Street sex shop and more lemming-like candidates set up fundraising committees for their abortive City Council runs. It is almost surreal.

When do we deal with the real, serious problems that plague our community? I wrote last week about the sordid "sex shop" of 116 Street. It should be addressed and has been. Do we ever move on?

Not as long as there are vote-hungry politicians who behave as if they just discovered sex! Not as long as they can inflame people about a serious (but not too serious) community concern on the constellation of things. Anyone who bothered to read my last week’s article can see that we can easily take care of the 116 street shop in question.

What is it that compels people to demonstrate about such shops (rightfully) but also compels them to be silent about the whole cornucopia of problems that afflict us, that need our help and attention.

Where are the demonstrations against bad schools, all the volunteers for assisting those in need or hungry, for saving our beaches and natural habitats, and for our unborn children?

It seems that some issues inflame us much more than others. Or perhaps our priorities are wrong or out of order.

No one can deny that the 116 shop must be controlled and regulated. No one can deny that it is a bad match for this neighborhood. But it is a problem, on the constellation of things, easily resolved. No store can operate without customers without losing money. That’s their reason to be in business!!!

No one can deny that these people attempt to make money on human suffering and degradation and that their effect—a morally corrosive one—must be addressed, and it has been!

I feel that there has been a misordering of our priorities, and an organized campaign that benefits our community to the detriment of other concerns. People only have so much spare time to "save Rockaway" and relatively minor concerns deter us from the serious ones!

It’s election year and I’m sure these rallies will benefit someone, and not necessarily our community. Where are the save the unborn rallies? What is more important than human life?

Where are the "good schools" rallies, or the "help cure hunger and poverty" demonstrations?

How can our political leaders, who accomplish very little, "save" us from so much?

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