As we tumble headlong into the dire possibility of a Trump Presidency, I am reminded of the salient, if silent, lesson some of us learn when moving from a small town to the urban core of a Big City: If you want to get along with everybody — like everyone anyway, even if you don’t — and never badmouth anybody, even if you want to.
Sure, we all clutch our cultural totems and hold some private Bigotries and Racial tendencies — we were raised by imperfect people in an imprecise niche of the woods, and we pass along that coventry with each begat generation — but that can’t be an excuse for being a clod as an uncommissioned adult.
Being raised in an isolated community where homogeneity is the order of thought means nothing is risked and nothing is lost in the speaking of the same, shared, mindset.
We have a responsibility to test our values against those that are held against us, and oftentimes, when exposed, those values are transmogrified and manipulated. The morality doesn’t change but the context of implication — and damnation! — does.
Closed communities are notoriously insular and chaotic in the loss of tickling danger and reasoned calculation. The right person leaves the community to challenge their own personal view of the world, but in that escape is where the incautious and the dangerous bleed into being.
Living in a big, divergent, city creates dilemmas, and crevices of crises, and those can be good things to the like-minded, but that curio of circus emotion can also be a little bit scary and frightening to the amateur out-of-town socializer. You don’t know who your friends are. You are uncertain of your enemies. You decide to be on your best behavior. You try to get along with everyone — and that is the simple, yet grand, point of living together in a shared community.
Nobody in your neighborhood cares what you think about people unlike you — unless you’re trying to create a connection consecrated in hatred — the whole idea of life is to publicly befriend everyone you meet even if you privately dislike them. The purpose of a mature, fully-formed, person is that you can hold your prejudices and hatreds in check all while resisting the need to scream them from the mountaintop.
I used to believe we should let every Bigot and Racist be heard in the public square — so we can thoroughly condemn them and repurpose their notions on how to live a human life — but now, with the disintegration of grace and unredressed comity in the Gilded Age of Trump, I now believe it is best we just smile with each other and help each other and put aside all our differences in order to continue to move forward together as a society — and if that means keeping quiet and being fake and unreal and not being purposefully cruel or insulting by design and purpose — then maybe that’s a refreshing thing.
A Big City teaches cultural tolerance by default of living because you really can’t know who, in the multitudes, everyone is, or who they claim to be — even though you’re compressed against each other’s sandpaper skin and binding essence and tangled hair and blotted sweat and abrasive thinking every day — or where they come from, or what they believe, or how they wish to live their lives.
The problem with the Modern Bigot is one of uncaring unreasonableness as sustenance and in endlessly trying to prove the improbable point. The New Bigot speaks only to be heard, not to be understood or ratified. The Today Bigot merely wants attention and to bring ruin to the harmonious core. The more time we give the uncensored Bigot, the more hate speech rises as Racism and thrives in Treason against We, the People.
Today, there are few who are willing to stand up and shout down a Bigot or a Racist — for fear of what is being concealed and mutated — because of the unknowable danger lurking beneath the muddy river in the rain.
Since we cannot know the unrevealed mind, or the unrepentant secret, we must presume nothing, and cannot guess anything. We can either directly ask for a person’s background and belief system and cultural upbringing — and risk getting shot for the question — or we can just let it all go as perfunctory urbanites, and live agnostically, and leave everyone alone as long as nobody is hurting anyone.
We’ll also disallow the unaccountable exception for actively scheming against our twisting, primary, mechanism for a firm, but evolutionary, moral core.
There should never be a safe harbor for Bigots or Racists — but we can still reserve a private portal within them that is chained directly to the tar pits of Hell, because that’s the proper tithing — but we should also not try to publicly root them out unless they are actively working against the common good. Then we drown them in their own sorrowfulness.
If you can’t change your core beliefs of hatred and separation, keep it to yourself, and just go along to get along. Everyone will be better off placing faith in our unspoken better grace over a riotous selfish selfieness.