A Gulf

Today is cool and dry, a sharp contrast to the weekend’s heat, humidity, storms, and flooding.

This morning I joined a group of truly lovely people for breakfast. The group is loosely organized around liberal politics and is deeply grounded in the members’ caring about other people and the environment.

The conversation focused on the upcoming democratic debates and the Muller testimony before the House. Underlying these concerns was a profound desire to see the president voted out of office next year.

As the conversation unfurled I realized that due to my family’s frequent instruction to avoid trusting any politician or government, I shared the groups desire to be done with our current despot, but lacked their optimism about life under a Democratic replacement. As the conversation continued I became increasingly aware of a vast gulf between my experience of ongoing colonialism and the others’ sense of shock at the racism and greed of the current government.

Th others felt, it seemed to me, a kind of shock and betrayal at what I perceive as the present exaggeration of the status quo. My everyday experience of colonial danger was, for them, new terrain, territory which could be abandoned with a switch of parties.

Although I have spent most of my life shuttling between cultures and worldviews, I found my growing realization that I live a separate reality from that of the others, and that the gulf between our experiences might just be unbridgeable, profoundly disturbing. More so was the thought that most likely they would not grasp the extent of the difference, even if I tried to voice it.

12 thoughts on “A Gulf

    • Lara, I do not believe they are callous, far from it. Our world is just outside their frame of reference. That said, some remember the experience of being Irish under Britain, so might have some grasp.

  1. I think, that people must have lived with same conditions, as you did Michael, to be able to understand for real, what you and many others went through.
    Others can only try to understand, without being able to fully.
    I don’t live in US, which I’m grateful for right now with this despot terrorizing all over the world, so I don’t know much about your political system, even I try to follow up to learn.
    It would be great, if we could find out living in peace with each other all over our world.

    • Irene, even those of us who live here don’t understand our political system really. At its heart there is profound racism, misogyny, and violence. All of the golden rhetoric lies pure greed and ambition which bubble to the top all to often and cause great suffering. If we d not find a way of workig together as a word, we will surely meet our collective end.

      • I do really wish for you and all in US and in the rest of our world, that there will come a more peaceful minded next president in short time. Otherwise I don’t think, that our world will live much longer, like we know it. I do understand, that it must be terrible to live in this way directly stated in US and not able to do much about it, Michael.

  2. I’m not so sure the gulf is due to cultural experiences. I too feel it, very deeply, and I’ve never experienced oppression or disrespect because of my culture other than what often happens because I’m a female in a male dominated world. I am disturbed at the level of identification many people have with their religions or political party, no matter which one. I find I’m becoming more and more cynical about the odds that humanity will ever rise above it.

    • Hi Madison,
      I imagine there are levels of experience. I have a daughter and many women friends, and while I care about their experiences I do not have to live them. The incessant sexism they face is appalling, and sometimes when they tell me about it, I just miss the point. Maybe that is just the way things are, that empathy only extends so far. Where things become difficult is when we try to compare experiences without diminishing them. While being a woman is challenging and dangerous, being an Indigenous woman is much more so. Yet both things are true. If we make the world safer for native women and women of color, we make the world better for all women. Sadly, changes for women of European origin do not always filter down.

      It is difficult to resist the urge to be cynical or hopeless, yet in our time we must, I think, do our best to foster deep change. Change is coming whether we seek to make it kind or not. Knowing that, as you clearly do, can be frightening.

  3. Age and educational differences.
    Not enough history is being taught.
    History does repeat itself, the racism and greed of the current government
    seems to be a perception that the social media wants to foist on a gullible
    populace that has too many fears, Fears that could be dissipated with
    an education that covers the entire spectrum of governments and their eventual outcomes.
    Getting old scares me when I see what the electorate is putting in our
    current government.
    Balance, compromise and fiscal responsibility are words that the younger generation has yet to learn.
    What political parties ? ? ?

    • Thank you Michael. Yes, education is important and the increasing cost of receiving an education is a profound threat. At the breakfast in question, the participants were very well educated, and deeply thoughtful. They are all older, respected professionals. They all care about people and the environment. It is likely no surprise they cannot relate to my experience as they ave not grown up with it. I imagine that the inability to relate is the single most salient feature of the current political system, irregardless of party.

      Yes, it is frightening to grow old in a society that hates those of all ages who need kindness and support.

  4. I think people are waking up more and more to the fact that it doesn’t matter which political party is in power, it seems to make little difference to the experience people live – whatever that experience may be. The system is broken and possibly always has been broken – or at least for a very long time.

    • Hi Andrea, I agree with you about the system being broken. I do think though that for groups of people, and to s large extent the environment, which party is in control matters a great deal. It is a paradox of sorts, and is only true to a degree.

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