Minute Man{This column appears in today’s Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper.  My column is published fortnightly.}

If there is one thing about which we are certain that we are pursuing at Georgetown, it is social justice.  We disagree about many things – but, apparently, we know “social justice” when we see it.  So certain are we, that we don’t stop to think critically about ways that we may be contributing to social injustice.  Yet, in the very act of scouring the world for the best and brightest and putting them on the path to upward mobility, we may be accelerating downward mobility for a great many of our countrymen.

God and Nature, in their wisdom, seem to have dispersed talent and intelligence widely throughout the globe.  If one polls an average class of Georgetown students from where they come, you’ll usually get a reasonably widespread representation from many of the States in the Union and the globe.   One measure of “diversity” that we like to proclaim is geographic:  we are no longer merely a parochial East Coast school, but a global institution.  We scour the nation and the world for the best students, and each year bring a sizeable number from everywhere for a first-class education on the Hilltop.

We do not, as a rule, ask many questions about where they go after graduation.  Yet, we all know where a great many of our students end up: if they are ambitious and successful (as most are), they end up in one of about half a dozen cities, including New York, Washington D.C., Seattle and Boston.  Along with peer institutions, we are engaged in a large-scale operation of accumulating talent and intelligence from the provinces and siphoning them to several centers composed of similarly enriched people.

The social theorist Richard Florida has celebrated the concentration of this elite educated class in books such as The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City? Florida attributes increasing levels of prosperity and creativity to the accumulation of intelligent and talented people in several urban areas.  His is a sort of left-wing version of Ronald Reagan’s claim that “a rising tide raises all boats.”  For Florida, a segregated creative class makes us all better off, even members of the uncreative class.

But is this the case?  Another view comes from Bill Bishop, who argues in his book The Big Sort that segregation by intelligence and education is fostering deep social divisions across the nation.  Where once the relatively random dispersal of people of differing talents and capacities meant a great deal of intermingling between people differently endowed, today – particularly through the efforts of our elite institutions of higher education – we are creating a new and socially divisive form of segregation.  Even as we praise ourselves for our sensitivities to “diversity,” it is also the case on many of our campuses that it is widely acceptable to regard with disdain and condescension people who are viewed as backward or recidivist – rednecks, bumpkins, bible-thumpers, “townies” – and, generally, people who live in “fly-over country” (one need only consider the response of the intelligentsia to Sarah Palin).

Further, what this siphoning of talent is arguably accomplishing is an insidious form of social injustice.  Every community relies on people of extraordinary talent, energy and achievement to become its leaders – politically, socially, economically, philanthropically and so on.  If one travels to small towns and smaller cities throughout the nation, one always finds evidence in the names of buildings, statues, museums, etc., that all such places have had a fair share of public-spirited contributors who have made those places better as a result of their local efforts.  Today, those sorts of people are more apt to apply to colleges in distant places and eventually end up living in or near one of a few major metropolitan areas across the world.  To use an image borrowed from the work of the poet, novelist and farmer Wendell Berry, we are effectively engaged in a human strip mining operation – stripping away the “usable” elements of local places and putting them in the stream of international commerce.  What’s left behind in those local places is of no concern to us.

Can we be so certain that our concern for “social justice” isn’t merely a kind of psychic compensation for a guilty conscience of what we’re leaving behind?  If we were really committed to the idea of social justice, we would have to become much more circumspect and even reluctant about the nature of the inequalities that we are fostering.  Resisting the strip mining model, we are more likely to exert our God-given talent in the way that God intended – in the communities from which we came, and to which we owe more obligation and gratitude than we are typically taught to display in most forms of “higher” education today.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Short, pithy, and well-said, Patrick; an excellent column. In my Christianity and Social Justice class, I always make a point at including our economic and education meritocracy as a contributor to American injustice and inequality. Here in Wichita, where the bulk of my students are just dreaming about climbing to the top of local pyramids, rather than fleeing in search of even higher ones, the criticism is hard to relate to. Here’s hoping that the folks at Georgetown, where skewed consequences of the meritocracy are even more obvious, will take your criticisms more directly to heart.

  2. Excellent essay, Patrick. Another way to view our meritocracy is as a kind of domestic empire or domestic imperialism. And another way to view “social justice” is as the concept that does the same work within our contemporary domestic empire that “the white man’s burden” did not too long ago in another but not a dissimilar empire — that work being legitimation of the expropriation of resources from the colonies to the imperial core. Conrad said that his day’s empire was the systematic taking away of things from those with noses “slightly flatter” than imperialists’ own. Today’s meritocracy could bee seen in Conrad’s light as the systematic taking away of things from those with necks slightly redder than those of meritocrats.

  3. The parochial/rural brain drain problem, and the consequent issue of home town social justice, can only be effectively countered when a critical ~mass~ chooses to stay home. Nobody wants to be the one alienated individual who returned. The intellect desires community. Besides, no one will choose or elect this alienated cosmopolitan individual to a leadership position so long as he is shown to be too different from the rest. Difference is lessened by communal links—the critical mass I mentioned above.

    And I don’t want to hear from some silly Ayn Rand thinking market-loving fool that we can counter this problem with mere economic incentives for college graduates (although college costs can make an incentive temporarily attractive). People won’t mortgage their souls for a life of small-town loneliness. They might move back for awhile to save money/costs, but they’ll just move later to a big city. – TL

  4. The sirens call of the big city and imperial seat has been going on since the various big shots in Rome hurled insults at Augustine down in the sticks of Hippo. The difference now is that the distance between rustics and their “betters” is less of an issue with the big city beamed directly into the sticks, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, creating a kind of vicarious agora that drowns out any remaining allure for one’s locale…at least for the noise and motion junkies of this day. Accordingly, the residents of the provinces maintain the historic love-hate relationship with the big city but the love and meaning within the local recedes to a virtual non-entity for anyone but those who chose to ignore the many blandishments of the unceasing spectacle. Even if a person successfully ignores the broadcasts beamed from headquarters, they cannot escape the national chains lining the paved wastelands near their outpost on the Interstate, further consigning the local to oblivion.

    In other words, the local becomes some kind of imaginary province, tangible in its existence but mere imitation in its built and social manifestations. To be local takes an act of will that is almost counterintuitive now, an obstinacy or a romantic, almost lunatic stance….at least that is how we are led to think of it as we compare ourselves against the tiny beaming screen that is the actual simulacra.
    In short, we are imitating an imitation. Fortunately, the local landscape, with its historic relationship to local towns remains a tangible thing and so is recoverable..in fact, it never left, we are simply distracted from it..or, in the case of sprawl, it is obliterated by the outlets of the artificial vicarious agora.

    Service jobs , ever-enervating would be the first to go if the locale were resurrected and a renewed appreciation of the Tangible…the authentic just may cause that renewal in craft that awaits a life geared toward the tangible and respectful of all forms of intelligence….from the kinetic to the intellectual.

    It is no accident that histories largest economic dilemma coincides with a social dilemma and both seem to want to continue chasing the tail of the inauthentic whether it be more debt or more of the inauthentic commodified existence that keeps us in thrall.

  5. This piece is well-written and, for the most part, well-argued. What I would question is why the author frames intellectual/educational segregation as a one-way street. Brain drains, strip mining — it’s as if every coed with a BA has consciously said “fuck it I’m going to Brooklyn.”

    That sentiment isn’t a myth. I’ve known plenty of people who thought just that. But as someone who went to the University of Michigan I witnessed and experienced a palpable push back in the form of anti-elitism, anti-education, anti-anything forces within the state. Ann Arbor is thought to be a brain trust for spoiled brats who leave the day after graduation, so in turn the “townies” hated us. We were despised — and just look to any UM, OSU or MSU message board in and around college football season and try not to choke on the culture wars. There is very much a sense of “get the hell out of here.”

    This, I fear, is very much a chicken-egg conundrum. A very complex (and emotional) cycle of pursuing opportunity and fostering communities. And I feel very much that FPR — and this piece — wonderfully argue these points. But this piece gently ignores the back and forth, especially in the off-hand Sarah Palin reference: “(one need only consider the response of the intelligentsia to Sarah Palin).” What of that response? She came on the scene so bristling with populist, anti-anything associated with liberalism/intellectualism/science/etc/etc that who wouldn’t want to scream back? And as there were those who took criticism of her over the line so we see the same thing all around the spectrum. It is what it is. To take the intelligencia’s reaction to Palin and put it in the vacuum of your particular argument is lazy writing.

    I can’t imagine scientists and researchers wanting to work in states that scarcely fund the sciences, let alone teach evolution or safe sex. Nor do I find it at all preferable for tens of thousands of well educated kids duking it out for unpaid internships and Ray-Bans in Brooklyn.

    Something has to give. Recognizing the give and take may be a start.

  6. ASKlein, dude, with all due respect and I love ya man but, you might want to take a ‘reading.’ You’re part of the problem.

  7. She came on the scene so bristling with populist, anti-anything associated with liberalism/intellectualism/science/etc/etc that who wouldn’t want to scream back?

    I actually think ASKlein has a good point. Sarah Palin was quickly and unfairly turned into a stereotype by the mass media, but she just as quickly embraced that stereotype, amped it up, using exactly the perverse mirror image which progressive urbanites and cosmopolitans have of traditionalist rural folk to hit back at them, hard. “Real America” and all that; saying that the blue states started it–which, by some measures, they did, dismissing those who fought in the Vietnam war as rednecks, hillbillies, and idiots–doesn’t paper over the fact that there are tens of millions of city-dwelling, meritocracy-shaped Americans out there who don’t care for being accused of being sell-outs, and are happy to have some loud-mouth so-called “populist” makes some lame jokes at them, which just confirms their own worst biases against their enemies.

  8. Tim Lacy –

    “Nobody wants to be the one alienated individual who returned. The intellect desires community.”

    Maybe the problem is the intellects thinking too much of their intellects to the point where they feel themselves alienated from the common people of their local communities and thus needing the company of
    their own “kind?” Isn’t it possible to be smart and full of book-learnin’ and yet still feel some kinship with the humbler folk in town?

    “And I don’t want to hear from some silly Ayn Rand thinking market-loving fool that we can counter this problem with mere economic incentives for college graduates (although college costs can make an incentive temporarily attractive). People won’t mortgage their souls for a life of small-town loneliness.”

    I do agree with this – and this is a spiritual problem at root, but not I think in the way most intellectuals might think it is.

  9. The fact that the speed-writing former governor of Alaska keeps her “reglar gal” personae burnished with liberal applications of resentiment for the preternaturally indignant is likely one of the most illuminating things about her. She is a politician with a capital “P”, a first class professional in that harlots trade…a kind of combination PT Barnum and William Jennings Bryan if William Jennings Bryan Suffered an Accidental Head Trauma and a quick Sex Change.

    A product of the rather deep inroads feminism has made into American Culture, she combines the wily charms of a winking seductress with the worst animalian instincts of the most mercenary of males. If anyone actually thinks she would go to Washington , do a fine job and leave without stuffing her pockets with as much cash as she can lay her winking hands on, well…….perhaps we can follow that bit of gullibility with a discussion about the mythical Welsh Monk’s bones found on the Rosebud Reservation, clutching the Holy Grail.

    She and that other calculating troll Newt have been in New York, agitating all corners, trying to make sure that enough confusion is sown so that one of the oldest continuously republican seats in the country goes democrat. They ought to abandobn the elephant as symbol of the GOP and simply substitute a Crack Pipe made out of an oil can.

    If Sarah Palin had not appeared as though a mirage, she would have been ultimately created by a Washington that is nothing more, nor nothing less than a funhouse of mirrors. She is the very definition of politician in America, circa 2009. To imagine her patiently writing any comprehensive legislation..or better yet, actually creating workable schemes for the reduction of the Federal Government is like imagining a bunch of Cargo Cult New Guinea Cannibals opening a nail salon on Fifth Avenue. Picturesque perhaps, but ultimately, a bloody farce

  10. I’m uneasy writing a response like this one, because it contradicts a lot of what keeps me coming to this site (and also because it may disappoint people I’d give quite a lot not to disappoint) but as a graduate student who’s enjoying his studies and who’s finding a life spent at university/small liberal arts college increasingly appealing, but as a person who grew up on a five-generation family farm–in short, as someone who finds himself in the same position that many authors on this site found themselves 15-25 years ago–I have to ask: if the life of the displaced academic is good enough for you, why isn’t it good enough for the rest of us? That is, if it was acceptable for you to abandon your communities, your histories, and your traditions to become the best versions of yourselves that you could become, why shouldn’t such a life be acceptable for the rest of us? And I don’t mean that “best versions” stuff like Rick Warren means it; I’m talking “best member of the human species you can be” and “live a happy life” in a very Aristotelian sense.

    And if any on this site are inclined to respond, I should note how unhelpful and unconvincing I’m beginning to find answers like “I know; it’s a fault” and “I’m trying to get back there” and pithy jokes admitting to your hypocrisy. And this for a simple reason: it surely cannot be so hard to undertake something truly original–and come home. My guess is that you’re not willing simply to live the kind of life you would have to live if you did return–one in which your skills as displaced academicians were in low demand, but in which your abilities to bag groceries or mow lawn might earn you a passable if uncomfortable living. If ‘home’ is so great, a real question: why are you busy telling us about it from the most placeless, meritocratic institutions in the world? At times, what it starts to look like is that, by day, you disdain to your students, your friends, your fellow ‘bloggers,’ and your readers the evils of the golden calf of meritocracy, but by night, though it may trouble your thoughts, you turn around to suckle contentedly at its fat tit.

    That may sound more vitriolic than I mean it too–but not much. Another way of putting the point is to say that we admire Wendell Berry, sure, for his writing and his contributions to whatever movement we’re trying to be a part of here, but most of all, we admire him because he has done or has tried to do almost all of the things he’s told us to do. And for his having lived that sort of life–not the one on the farm but the one in which he exemplifies the virtues he extols–he becomes that much easier to take seriously and to believe. My problem with pieces like this one and others, so quick decry the increasing departure of the highly intelligent from small country places is that they are written by those who are, themselves, members of the exodus–indeed, who are benefactors of it.

    Now I readily accept the charge of ad hominem, here, and I don’t mean to say that the argument against meritocracy is bad because the people making it are, themselves, meritocrats (or at least live like them). What I mean is that it’s hard to believe that our meritocratic circumstances could be as bad as some on this site have made it sound, given that those very people are themselves willing only to wring their hands toward the problem–and even that, at a distance.

  11. SteveK asked these two questions: ” [1] Maybe the problem is the intellects thinking too much of their intellects to the point where they feel themselves alienated from the common people of their local communities and thus needing the company of their own “kind?” [2] Isn’t it possible to be smart and full of book-learnin’ and yet still feel some kinship with the humbler folk in town?”

    [1] Perhaps. This is, as you state, a problem of humility. But alienation is a status to be ignored at the peril of us all. The point is to obtain and foster community, yes? And community exists in many forms—and at many levels. Diverse connections must exist even in scaled down scenarios.

    [2] Absolutely. Again, the intellect is tempered by humility—or should be.

    Think of my proposition like this: If community, then intellectual kinship within the same. Not, if intellectual kinship, then community. I meant to merely assert that intellectual kinship is necessary, not sufficient. I’ve seen all kinds of inadequate communities based solely on intellectual kinship (look at the dysfunction within universities, which are supposedly bastions of in-common liberalism).

    Communal connections exist, of course, at all kinds of levels—and many levels must be fulfilled to foster stability. – TL

  12. Aaron,
    This is an issue, and accusation, that has been addressed many times by various people here. I don’t know that any of these answers are going to be satisfactory. However, given that you frame this response in reference to being in a university for an advanced degree, I do think there’s a response that may resonate, and does not require one to give up all one’s aspirations for the sake of returning to one’s place of origin, assuming that one cannot pursue one’s vocation in that particular place.

    I was speaking here LESS of an iron-bound requirement that people return to their places of origin than commending a different ethic and set of philosophical assumptions than those that now inform the nation’s top universities, and, more generally, elite institutions. The presumption now is that a successful education results in sifting or sorting to one of several urban settings (not Cleveland or St. Louis, to be sure). The deeper ethic is that one become something of a deracinated free-agent, willing and capable of living everywhere and nowhere in particular. At the heart of the modern education is the effort to liberate us from particular loyalties, but rather, a loyalty to a “cosmopolitan” orientation. Social justice is care or concern for the less fortunate from a distance – where my own investment is shielded by the intermediary of the State. It does not involve my actual presence in any of those places, and allows me to live in a relatively undisturbed way in the cocoon of my privilege.

    This ethic is above all one of the primary lessons being taught at our top universities. It is, moreover, an ethic being taught in graduate programs to Ph.D. candidates – what matters above all is not the PLACES or STUDENTS where you teach, but the RESEARCH that you can produce for a placeless cohort of academic colleagues. One’s relative success as an academic is adjudged by one’s research and one’s placement in a pecking order of research universities. One doesn’t aspire to be at Harvard or Princeton because of specific institutional particularities, but because they are the preeminent representatives of an idea of deracinated research. One thing that is generally taught is not to be committed to any particular place – to view academia (like everything) as a “market,” in which institutions have value according to their relative levels of deracination. Liberal arts colleges with particular longstanding traditions and especially religiously-affiliated institutions will rank low – while research universities that have disaffiliated will be ranked higher.

    This ethic does not result in a “neutral” view toward institutions, but an outright hostility toward institutions that place an emphasis upon PARTICULAR loyalties and beliefs that constitute the raison d’etre of those institutions. Read, for instance, some of the comments on the generally despicable website “Political Theory Rumor Mill,” in which outright hostility and contempt is displayed toward religiously affiliated institutions (along with tremulous inquiries about whether you can “get by” at those places without having any actual allegiance to those institutional commitments). Most people who now work toward Ph.D.s and eventually teach in the variety of institutions around the country are trained – and seek to advance – a homogeneous view of education, namely a research-dominated model of the modern university. Every institution begins to resemble this model more and more – and at its core, this transformation is informed by the ethic about which I write about here.

    Thus, I’m not arguing that everyone must or ought necessarily to return to their place of origin, like salmon, to reproduce and die. This is not to say that it wouldn’t be a good thing if more people weren’t to do just that – that many more of our academic and other institutions ought to encourage just this (thus making many more places good places to live for the educated and accomplished among us). But it is to say that HOW we live in the places where we do end up living will be very different as a result of a different ethic. Will you care about your institution and its students? Will you only accept a position if you can support its founding mission – not try to undermine it from within? Will you seek to make a home in the place where you end up living, striving to live in a neighborhood with other people who have sought (or have been brought up) to believe in the same?

    Ironically, as far as academia is concerned, many talented and well-educated people end up back in places they otherwise would not have chose to live in. Yet, often in my experience, I have heard expressions of resentment and condescension about those places from those who view their presence in these places as having lost the job market sweepstakes. Imagine what a different ethic would be needed if those same institutions were minting Ph.D.s who regarded a position in New York or (God forbid) Washington D.C. as at worst a curse, and at best, a burden?

    Much more to be said, but I hope that – as you continue your studies – you remain devoted to the possibility of particular loves.

  13. Dr Deneen,

    Thank you for the considered response.

    My rejoinder, offered in a tone not the product of having stewed over the article for most of yesterday, is simply this: surely a love for the particular must amount to a love of home. For if we are to take the notions of generational knowledge and ‘nostalgia’ (in the Lasch/Peters senses) seriously–though admittedly, these were not concepts introduced in your piece–what we love when we love something particular (be it a place or a person) is something we know in a way that we know nothing else, and especially that, in a way, knows us as nothing else knows or can know us. And in regards to places, surely our homes, our origins, fit this description better than any others.

    Perhaps, then, you can understand my frustration with the critique of meritocracy and of the flight from the particular. Granted: it hurts particular places, and thus the particular people who, for reasons of ability or circumstance, did not leave, and it reduces such places (and not just rural ones) to prisons of a sort, from which the children of its inhabitants are encouraged to escape. Having lived in the shadow of such assumptions, and having lived my childhood and adolescence with the those assumptions’ effects, I do not take the harm lightly. But if asking your students to love the particular amounts to asking them to love their homes–for surely, this is the only way that the intelligent and talented can be returned to small places–and their homes have become places not conducive to their flourishing as human beings, what then?

    And again, I’m hoping this doesn’t sound like a “gotcha” inquisition; this is the real dilemma that many university graduates face. I mean, there really isn’t much demand for the gentleman-farmer-philosopher in Lost Nation, or for the biomedical engineer in Eldridge (the degree with which my friend Cori recently graduated), or for the sacred musician and theologian in Long Grove, or for the political theorist, or for the teacher of English Romantic Poetry, and there can only be so many country lawyers and local authors. If we are to love our homes, we are, by and large, to embrace a life that is not conducive to the practice of an academic discipline, and that would seem to be the case even if the university would become far more racinated than it is today. What, I guess is my question, do you tell your brightest political theory students, who could make important contributions to your discipline and who could also be excellent teachers, when they tell you that they’re from places many hours from any appreciable demand for the profession in which you’re trying to train them?

  14. Deneen, why are you focusing so heavily on “fly-over country?” I think the issue you’re addressing is more an urban/rural one than a regional one. (I note that you conveniently omitted Chicago from the list of cities that “top-flight” grads end up – but included tiny little Seattle, for some curious reason.) Also – “The presumption now is that a successful education results in sifting or sorting to one of several urban settings (not Cleveland or St. Louis, to be sure).” Why Cleveland and St. Louis, in particular? Why not Bridgeport, CT? Why not Reno, NV? Why not a small Southern city, for that matter? For someone who’s as analytical and detail-oriented as you seem to be, your knowledge and treatment of American social and cultural geography are painfully lacking and shudder-inducingly ham-handed, respecitvely. (Don’t feel bad, though – you’re hardly the only one who sloppily conflates “rural” with “Midwestern,” as if they are one in the same concept.)

  15. It was at George Mason University, I think, that Wendell Berry began a short speech by saying, in effect, “I’ve spent the last thirty-five or forty years going around the country telling people to stay home.”

    So, Aaron, there’s your admission of hypocrisy from the master himself, and there, Patrick, is the company we keep, save that Berry probably does more palpable good on any given day by staying home than we did all last year by going into work. If we were better men, we’d do better work.

    Aaron, you’re not going back to Lost Nation to do better work. You’re too talented to do that and also too unskilled. Like Patrick, you’ll decide that whatever good you can do will be done at a price you are willing, however reluctantly, to pay. If, after tenure, your conscience is still working, you will wring your hands over this and, eventually, you’ll get off your own back.

    The students in a class you once sporadically attended asked me last week (on Peters Contra Mundum day) whether I thought I could do more good if I left the profession. I don’t really know the answer to that question, but my smart-ass answer was that I could probably do less harm–because you see we sometimes have to think of progress as not letting things get worse.

    I’m pretty sure you’re going to try to keep things from getting worse. And part of that project will be to tell your students to go home. Some will; some won’t. More of yours than mine will, but that’s because Reality will be more powerful in your heyday than She has been in mine and Patrick’s. We’re playing John the Baptist to you.

    Let me add that it’s pretty ridiculous for us who have shared bourbon to be “communicating” in this way.

  16. Dr. Deneen excellent topic and your response made it even more so.

    I had to travel far from home to my graduate work – Europe. But I was fortunate in that I was able to work in the state I grew up in and close to family. However, I would not consider moving back to the actual town I grew up in. Everything I valued in my growing up community is gone, the place it is now is utterly strange to me. I think this is something overlooked – the pace of change is so rapid now that communities change too and become unfamilar to even those who stay. How can one feel any sense of connection to such a rapidly changing social and physical landscape?

    Your point about go anywhere for a job academics is most apt. As a young woman I would have gone anywhere to get a job at a University. I would have gone far from family with great reluctance but I would have still gone. I would have done this because I loved my work. I loved teaching. I loved the research. I loved my discipline. I still do and if remaining in a home town meant I could not do what I loved, I would be much less of a person.

    For many who come from smaller communities or who have working class backgrounds, the day you decide to go to grad school is the day you also decide to leave that past behind. Even if you grew up in a working class neighborhood in Boston and return to teach at Harvard you will still have left the world of your origins behind. Even if you do return to that same home town, you return a very different person, you do not fit the old place the way you once did. And sometimes, the old place doesn’t want this new you.

    I do agree heartily that one should not work in a place where you cannot commit fully to the founding mission and the community in which that organization of what ever sort is located. Commit to the place you are in.

  17. Cecelia,
    That’s a good point. Berry says much the same through Burley Coulter. We’re all familiar, I suspect, with his lament in Hannah Coulter in which he talks of things going wayward after the war. In another story, though–and I can’t recall or find where, I’m afraid–he’s ruminating on the same thought but concedes that he can’t lay much blame on them as what they left no longer exists to return to.

  18. Insightful, forestwalker.
    It isn’t the ‘place,’ it’s the people and if you get to live long enough, they begin to die on you: parents, family, friends.
    Hannah was remembering the people who made the place that she loved.
    We chose to stay with our people, living and dead. We chose to tend their graves and remember the old stories.

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