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Last year when I attended my uncle’s funeral I was struck by the homogeneity of his network. The reception was at a very swanky golf resort. The entrance was gated and I needed a clearance to enter. The grounds were dripping in opulence. Even the attendees gave off a redolence of great wealth. Everyone was white and Republican. As I mingled I wondered to myself if these folks had any contact with their fellow Americans other than each other. I doubted it. At the time I felt a smugness I was better; I had a ‘broader base” of contacts.

But do I really? Stepping back from the contents of my late uncle’s world and looking at my own, mine is probably no broader.

Smoking is an example. Other than The Lovely Neighbor I can’t think of a single soul that I know who smokes. Yet 25% or so of the nation smokes. I bet smokers have among their friends a lot of smokers.

You will be shocked to hear nearly all my friends are gay, male, and liberal in their politics. The closest I have to a broader network is through blogs – yet even these fine folks are generally cut from the same cloth. I bet there isn’t one among my reads who is conservative, anti-gay, pro-Trump, and/or uninterested in Self growth.*

Is my memory faulty when I recall it used to be different? As I grew up I remember I was around people of many views, habits, and backgrounds. In school, scouts, and such there were many different sorts; we didn’t agree, we sometimes argued, but we didn’t completely isolate.

It is no surprise to me to read places that combine types do a good job at diminishing fears and bias. Whites are less fearful of Blacks when both are in the military (or pirate ships for that matter). Conservatives are “less anti-gay” when they know someone personally who is.

I would like to remedy this in my life viz. have a more expansive circle. I think it would be good for me and for them – and for the nation too in a way. Now how does one do this? I think my biggest challenge isn’t finding others of different sex, race, politics or religion, but of different sexual orientation.  Can straight and gay men be friends?

Circle

 

*The tendency to surround ourselves on-line with only those who are like is sometimes called ‘cyber-balkanization’.

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