We live in fractured days, lacking in harmony, civility, and comity. “Comity,” an old word for courtesy and kindness, is related etymologically to the Sanskrit word for “smile.” As it often does, etymology here beautifully illuminates a reality, in this case about both kindness and smiling: they unceasingly bring warmth, joy, and a smile to both giver and receiver.
County Highway is not county-specific. It’s for all of America outside major cities. Well, outside of New York and Los Angeles, for sure. In the second issue, there’s a piece about unions in Las Vegas. Another “outsider” voice comes from Miami, though he travels to Puerto Rico. It’s “the rest of America,” but it’s not necessarily rural America, despite the squirrel recipe.
For Kaplan, when comparing two countries and asking why one has succeeded where the other has failed, what matters most is not national policies but “societal dynamics—the strength of the social glue, the nature of relationships across groups, and the role of social institutions.” These are things that manifest (or fail to manifest) at the local level.
I’ve been told that workers have had to step away from the register while checking out paying customers to chase away repeat shoplifters as they hurled all kinds of epithets at them…on top of one elderly worker having a milkshake hurled at her face. As much as middle management feels bad for the workers, there is little within their power to alleviate the situation, as most of the power is in the hands of distant (and indifferent) bureaucrats.
My point is not to get lost in conventional debate here. But seeking to heal from the culture war, I want to uncover the bodies of my neighbors, which industrial stories kick in the face, deform, and then at election time bury beneath the red-blue map. Aligned with my neighbors, I want to stand in a place off that map, outside those stories.
Maybe we can just call it something else, like, “Living with family and friends in a neighborhood designed to encourage the building of social capital, relying on them in real and tangible ways (rather than just manufacturing reasons to occasionally interact with them), and overcoming the isolating dynamics of modern life.”
The ecomodernist approach of Regenesis relies on a mechanistic understanding of humanity. The presumption is that humans are merely fleshy machines that can adapt to flourish in any environment as long as their basic material needs are met. That doesn’t match with most people’s experience of life.
We were all, adults and children alike, doing things that really mattered to the whole free world, and we’d better get on with doing them, every day, all the time. Everyone came from somewhere else and was hustling on their way to somewhere more important. Perhaps we were, all of us, rootless.
It is hard to say who this land belongs to, but I know without a doubt that I belonged to it from my earliest youth. I was raised just south of town, on a defunct dairy farm surrounded by miles of pasture and scrubby woods. I can barely remember a time before I was allowed to roam over that countryside freely.
In Stepford, everyone has forgotten how to do nothing, as children used to do: the blessed nothing that is full of receptivity and calm, and that is at the heart of the merry activity of play.