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The Crowd: Wonders from the private sector

December 13, 2012|By B.W. Cook
  • Larry Higby, Broadway star Sutton Foster and Dee Higby.
Larry Higby, Broadway star Sutton Foster and Dee Higby. (Daily Pilot )

There are some folks who protest the fact that expensive tickets to charitable galas are elitist. Women dressed in floor-length gowns and men in black ties reflect a past sensibility not relevant in modern society.

In an age where folks feel it is appropriate to wear T-shirts to church and flip-flops to the wedding of a friend, you must ask the question, cliché or not, "Do clothes make the man or woman?"

The answer is no. It has always been no. Clothes never trump the essential qualities of human interaction. However, appearance does equate with something important in the equation. That something is respect. Respect for a cause or purpose, an idea, a goal, and for fellow human beings.

Last Friday evening in the O.C., 430 citizens converged upon the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for the 39th Annual Candlelight Concert dinner and fundraiser benefiting what is arguably the cornerstone of civilized culture in this community. Nearly $1 million was raised from corporate and individual patrons donating thousands of dollars per person to attend. While such largess may be dubbed elitist by virtue of the affordability factor, it must also be labeled as generous, and even unselfish, inasmuch as funds raised support cultural enrichment and education programs offered by the center, touching the lives of some 325,000 young people who might otherwise have no exposure to professional music, dance, theater and other artistic endeavors presented each year.

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It would seem that the consequence of such grand behavior is in fact democratic — the sharing of benefits made possible by those able to contribute giving to those not able. This is a quintessential American concept that is being hotly debated on the national stage as government tries to come to compromise over taxation of the wealthy.

The difference, of course, is the voluntary contributions of private citizens versus enforced taxation in the name of democratic reform.

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