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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
August 28, 2005

Sailing From Santorini

At the end of our trip to Santorini, Tripp and I hosted a couple of parties for some friends who were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary and his 50th birthday.

They are people who live in the rare air of the very wealthy and this was an extravaganza that will be remembered for decades by the participants. Thirty some friends of Jeff and Joyce descended upon Geneva, toured over to Askona, rally raced cars to St. Moritz, dined at the restaurant where Jeff proposed to Joyce, flew to Istanbul, did a scavenger hunt in the Grand Bazaar, lounged at poolside in Bodrum and sipped cocktails at the summer home of Ahmed Ertegun, winged their way to Santorini when the sea was too rough to race the chartered yachts, partied at Feredini on Santorini, dined at Kukumavlos and then winged their way to a spa at Porte Vecchio in Corsica, where they dined beachside with a finale of fireworks.

All this in twelve or so days; a trip that leaves me breathless just thinking about it.

Most of the guests stayed at Perivolas, arguably the most famous hotel on Santorini, featured in a thousand travel magazines over the years with its pool that seems to go off into infinity. Standing by the pool, drinking a special concoction the ingredients of which I can only speculate upon but whose active one was vodka, one of the men stood and said to another: think how fortunate we are to have been born in this time and place, with these resources at our call, to live THIS life.

He spoke as I was gathering them up to take them to the Proteus, one of the yachts, to go out to a mud spa, so they could roll in the warm, smelly but supposedly healing wet dirt of one of Santorini's inlets.

As he spoke, it occurred to me that he was wise to realize how lucky he was; how lucky this whole group of them is, including us.

Most of us live lives that are breathtaking in comparison to the world's billions. While we lounged in the white cave rooms of Perivolas, the wonderful, cruel earth claimed its victims from starvation and disease, far from these frothy frolics.

There was also for me a sense that this has been the way of it through all of time. Two thousand years ago, probably on this very island, some wealthy Roman citizens came ashore from a smart trireme and enjoyed luxurious revels during which someone might have remembered how lucky they were compared with the rest of the world.

No matter the society nor the age in which it has flourished, there has always been a privileged class.

The history of a society is written by the choices made by its privileged.

America's Founding Fathers were, for the most part, scions of the well-to-do, the privileged landowning strata of Colonial society that lived for the most part apart from the rest of their country's subsistence scratching fellow residents.

Their choice, at the end of the day, was to create a unique form of government which, for all its faults, is better than most other forms and has modeled for much of what has democratically worked in the last two centuries.

We borrowed from the British, whose lords stood up to King John and demanded the Magna Carta. They borrowed from the Romans and the Romans from the Greeks.

Who they borrowed from, I haven't a clue. They invented a lot of what we, in the west, know of as human society and that is why Thomas Cahill is correct in his book: SAILING THE WINE DARK SEA: Why The Greeks Matter. The Greeks still matter because of what their privileged class left us.

It is important we think of this for we, as Americans, more privileged than most societies now or at any time in history, need to be thinking of what we will be leaving the generations to come and whether two thousands years from now a writer will be arguing for why we still matter.