You are supposed to go first

No one denies the confrontational identity politics that prevails today; no one denies the emotional disruption of fifteen months in virtual isolation; no one denies the insecurity of a disappearing lifestyle that eliminates storefronts, careers and every day family security; no one denies the utter absence of a life of contentment, quiet comfort and satisfaction. How do we stop this hellish train to nowhere?

You go first. What are some tricks to escape the gravity of society today? The issue is, after all, how you feel as an individual. How everyone else feels is abstract; what makes YOU feel better and thereby improves life in these times, at least for yourself?

What follows are a few examples that seem to work at an individual level.

֎ Mariner’s wife rises early in the morning to prepare a simple but tasty breakfast. She eats this breakfast outdoors on the back deck just as the garden, birds, insects and other creatures are waking up and the Sun is rising on a new day. Human intervention doesn’t exist; there are no responsibilities, no reason to account for the human world, no thought of chores. In her backyard, at least, all’s well and peace is at hand.

This moment is more powerful and more rewarding than it reads. It arms the reader with confidence at a subconscious level. It is easy to imagine the difference between a morning coffee while watching morning television and a morning coffee in a pleasant, reassuring moment of solitude. It may take some practice to shut down the angst of facing the outside world but it is worth it.

Besides the magic of internal peace, its magic will soften your approach to others during the day and permit you to be less confrontational. Isn’t this an example of how to ‘pass it forward’ in an effort to slow that hellish train?

֎ Mariner lives in a small corner of town where ten homes are clustered in a manner that encourages collective activity. The residents of these homes have political and economic differences that are quite measurable. The political philosophies range from Trump allegiance including conspiracies to extremely progressive socialists. Careers range from retired tradesmen to nurses to master mechanics to systems consultants to truck drivers to school administrators to retired pilots.

In order to sustain civility, sharing, caring and the many other little behaviors that make neighborly life pleasant, everyone practices oppressed confrontation. Neighborly bonding with each other and maintaining an “I’m here if you need me” attitude requires a rule that no one talks about political, religious or philosophical mandates or condescending comments about other neighbors.

It is obvious that unity is more important than ideological supremacy. Isn’t this, too, one small step?

֎ A third exercise is to share, that is to share in a way that would not qualify as every day sharing. The secret is to keep the logistics simple but make a large impact on the recipient(s). Typically the recipient has a hardship of some kind; perhaps being a shut-in, or an invalid or a family suffering a recent death or a family who is in a state of economic hardship or maybe just a special occasion in the recipient’s life. It’s your turn to share some concern and relief to your acquaintances who are in need. Cash not allowed; put yourself and a few friends into it – show sharing, caring and compassion.

Like the first two suggestions, sharing is more powerful and more rewarding than it reads. The common result from all the suggestions is the creation of unity. It is unity that is the antidote to the nation’s infection of identity politics.

It’s your turn.

– – – –

On the side, Mariner and his wife were talking about this post. As is her wont, she quickly wrote a poem to reflect on sitting on the porch:

This garden would be perfect
The old man thought
As he leaned on his hoe

And scratched his ear
If it weren’t for that damned young rabbit.

This garden would be perfect
The young rabbit thought
As he munched on lettuce
And scratched his ear
If it weren’t for that damned old man.

This garden is perfect
The poet thought
As she ate breakfast on the deck and enjoyed the view
Having neither the work of maintaining it
Nor the necessity of surviving in it.

MKM 6-4-2021

Ancient Mariner

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