Watching the election play out, I’ve had to take a close look at how my worldview interfaces with my political view. It really gunks up a guy’s thinking.
The familiar is not threatening. I live in a community full of immigrants and people of every imaginable ethnic and gender orientation. Surprise! – I don’t find all these others threatening. But the sudden sight of a moose on my porch would get the pee flowing fast down to my socks.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter how I, and my fellow New York City dwellers, feel about immigration. The fact that so many find it threatening is reason enough to give pause before screaming about all those racist deplorables. People in the heartland do accept the other when diversity is not experienced as a sudden invasion. If I got my ass outside more onto some hiking trails I might give a pleasant wave to the moose. By assuming a sense of enlightened superiority we forget that our pespective is molded at least as much by where we live as by our character.
My general rule on arguing with one’s mate is: winning an argument – particularly using insults and threatening postures as a persuader – is a loser. If 50% of a couple is sad, it’s a pretty sad couple. If half of our population is stressed, then we as a nation are stressed. The trophy has to be a bit shared or what got won? Shutting someone up is not changing a mind. We cosmopolitan libs, like right wing conservatives, tend to exclude ideological identity groups from our notion of equality.
Our current cultural civil war is one that’s been going on in my own skull for most of my life. My parents were of the non-college educated working class. There was never a book in the house. Never a fresh vegetable. They were pre-Freudian with no curiosity about how the world ticks or how they and the offspring tick.
I was the first in my family to go to college where I discovered that a diet of canned spaghetti and Twinkies wasn’t friendly to homo sapiens body parts. I discovered movies that involved something deeper than two-dimensional heroes, villains and explosions. In a college dorm I could see race relations in an intimate way – how my African-American friends looked at me differently after a racist incident hit the news cycle. It hurt in a very personal way. Unfortunately I booked out of the classroom part; but it was the overall college ecology that was transformative. The post-college cultural breach between myself and my parents was tragic. We lacked the internal resources to ever be a family in any real sense.
For the same reason, I believe, there’s a dangerous split in American society between the college-educated and those whose education ended after high school or earlier. And that age-old split has become uglier than ever. It’s not that hard to narrow the breach.
It’s incomprehensible to me why studying music, poetry or literature is done in a college setting with its credit requirements in math and science, but studying to be an electrician or plumber which actually demands an understanding of math and science is not part of the college system. Despite my deep intellectual curiosity I was no more academically inclined than the average working class kid but there was always the unquestioned assumption that I’d go to college after high school. Maybe that’s because I was a Jewish working class kid. Who knows. My lack of aptitude for the academic mode of learning led me to drop out after two years but those two years mattered.
If our education system could modify its methods to accommodate the character of today’s youth; and if the government would invest in providing affordable college tuition, it would be no stretch to bring what we foolishly see as working class occupations into the college curriculum and create a society that’s far more unified.
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, September 25, 2017
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