Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
A bright, busy Wednesday.
What does it say about a country that shuts its own government down? Nothing much good, I imagine. We’re going on two weeks of this mess. No end in sight, no stomach for communication or compromise.
I’ve got this unnerving theory that culture is what keeps a people together. That must seem obvious. And at first blush, probably pretty good. ‘Culture’ calls to mind nice things like unwrapping Christmas packages or eating franks at a baseball game. Its variety is why we travel: to voyeur other people doing things quite differently than us, to revel in their accomplishments without any responsibility.
But there’s a dark side to culture. It is inherently exclusive. To gather round the holiday fire, you all have to agree to set one. And if you don’t agree, then you’re cast as the ‘other.’
In America, we have this dream of perfect individual freedom. We’ve never quite gotten there, but it’s the dream all the same. But as we inch closer and closer to realizing that kind of freedom, it necessarily involves breaking those ties that held us to rigid institutions – some of them as malevolent as racial prejudice; others, caught up in the process, as necessary as community holidays.
So we may be more free but we’re freely suspicious. It’s harder to look across the street and take anything about that other pedestrian for granted: you don’t know that he’s progressive, christian, believes in gun rights, only eats fish on Fridays. And not knowing any of those touchstones – big or small – makes it hard to approach him.
So it is with congress. As a reflection of our best (and worst) selves, no-one trusts each other; and even if they do, they understand themselves as the ‘other,’ at best a worthy opponent, not a comrade.
I don’t have an answer for this. Humanity help us.
Novel Count: 9,909
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
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Keep your language. Love its sounds, its modulation, its rhythm. But try to march together with men of different languages, remote from your own, who wish like you for a more just and human world.Helder Camara, Spiral of Violence