Thank you, as usual, for all of this. Somebody Somewhere is in our queue. We are waiting for a time to watch it as a family. And the Trabian Shorters interview is a talk I'll return to again and again. His work is one of those examples of how a seemingly simple adjustment results in a big paradigm shift. But it's hard. It's working against biology. As Shorters says, we are hard-wired to identify threats. So, our brains tend to lead with what's wrong/scary, and then we act/think according to that perception. This served us well at one point. It kept us from getting eaten by tigers or caught out in the open by warriors from a hostile tribe. For most of us in the developed world, though, this survival instinct has outlived its usefulness (though sad to say, for too many people in too many parts of the globe, this is still a fact of daily existence). But the impulse survives, and shows up in all kinds of sorting and catastrophizing and circling of the wagons (aka cancel culture). You see this is in people of all ages, but perhaps especially in young folks who, as they embark on self-discovery, define themselves perhaps less by who they are than by, over and against who they aren't. It's no wonder that the young make the best foot soldiers in movements. They are the most zealous, and most likely to see things in stark terms. As to whether this sorting and excluding is American, I'd say far from it. It's human. In fact, my experience living abroad and traveling around the world has led me to the conclusion that this impulse is actually much worse in most places. Most places I've been to in Europe, Asia and South America, it's not a question, even among liberals, that people from another country (or even another part of the country from the part whoever you're talking to is from) or another religion are a threat to the culture. One of the shocks of three years living in "liberal" Paris was how thick the air was with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Homophobia, etc. I grew up in a rural area, and have lived a number of different places, but the only place anyone ever called me a faggot was on the streets of Paris.

Expand full comment