My Good Fortune

Once more, my good fortune amazes me.

My father was Catholic, and my mother was Baptist. I got to know both churches rather well as a kid. My home county was dully homogenous, but I got to spend some summers in Chicago, where I learned to tell what neighborhood I was in by sniffing for the cooking odors.

My college years were spent on a small campus — less than 500 students– where everyone was a part of the work program no matter how much or how little money one’s parents had.   One of my roommates was a black Baptist from Virginia who married a white Jew from Illinois.  Another roommate was a pacifist who was the champ of wargames. We had people from Vietnam, Korea, Syria, Argentina, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. My psych professor was an arch conservative and my history professor an arch New Dealer.

I moved to Southern Arizona and chose a blue collar career (the white collar jobs looked so phony, and after all, it was the Sixties). In the course of 40 years in industry, it was easy to forget that Ray was Hispanic and Joe was Navajo and Phil was Mormon. It hardly came up, not because of PC but because we were too busy working to worry about inconsequentials.

My recent life after retirement has also been fun. My parish priest is from northern Ghana, one of our Deacon’s has a wife who spent her childhood in a Japanese internment camp, and over half our parish is Hispanic (and we get Spanish Masses as a bonus.)

A few Sunday’s back, Father’s homily included a story about two tribes in his home diocese who got into a squabble, which adversely affected the local economy and ended in food shortages. (CRS came in with help.)  From that moment, I have not been able to look at American politics as anything but tribal squabbles, between the Red tribe and the Blue tribe. Two tribes. What one wants, the other attacks. Each tribe enforces conformity to its standard, in the name of diversity and freedom. And true diversity and true freedom dies in the name of tribalism.  If one wants a more classical allusion to how stupid it all is, there are the Blues and Greens in Byzantium. — Who remembers the casus belli which motivated the Greens in the Hippodrome? Who recalls the enmity between Guelf and Ghibelline? In a millennium, who will care about our current tribal squabbles? What were those bickerings about? And how much do they matter today?

The foregoing may sound as if I were opposing “diversity”, but not so. So long as we have things in common, a good amount of shared experience so we can communicate, and so long as we don’t think stupidly about other people, we will get along OK. We will be made stronger by our differences. To which I can personally attest the truth of the proposition.

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