Tuesday, April 12, 2016


There isn't much to report today, but there isn't much to do either, so I'm returning to my writing habit to occupy my mind. It's a dreary, rainy day in the middle of mud season and I don't have on hand any books that I want to read. On top of that I have no desire to socialize, because I'm still recovering from a talkative weekend visitor. Fortunately she was articulate, knowledgeable and polite, making her presence on the whole desirable, but unfortunately she seems to have used up my reservoir of social receptiveness for the month, and I'm ready to retreat to my solitary habits.

The visitor lives in Washington, D.C. and confirms something I've observed repeatedly: city dwellers are more socially adept than rural dwellers. I find it a little ironic that I can be in social situations and notice this incongruity while not being particularly social myself. A high percentage of the people I've known who have lived only in rural areas really have behaved like hayseeds compared to city people, who obviously have acquired a variety of skills and increased their social awareness simply by living in environments that require it. I don't think the two groups understand each other very well, and perhaps I do better than most because I have spent considerable time with each. I haven't always enjoyed it, because rural people really are yokels in the sense that their worldviews cannot be the same as mine, and, to the extent that I am able to understand a variety of worldviews, the urban dwellers aren't much better. In political terms you might think of rural people as red-staters and urban people as blue-staters. I don't identify with either, but consider blue-staters more socially aware.

The interesting thing to me is that if you look at either group closely from a sociological standpoint, one cannot be considered inherently superior to the other. While the rural do suffer from a lack of exposure to ideas and ethnicities, the urban suffer from overexposure to an ideological interpretation of reality that eases the tensions created by the complexity and stresses unique to cities. In cities you are routinely exposed to others who, on an instinctive level, arouse suspicions and fears which, if left unattended, may generate an assortment of pathologies. Thus cities develop implicit rules of conduct to reduce tensions, and those who inhabit them absorb them as part of the culture. It would be unrealistic to expect rural people to know or understand that ideology, because they have little exposure to it beyond what they see in the media.

What I find is that there are limits to how well I can relate to city dwellers, because their cultural exposure tends to confine them to their particular ideological orientation, which, though broader than what one finds in rural areas, still has limitations. For example, it is cities, not the countryside, that foster political correctness. One of the reasons why I like having my own blog is that it permits me to clarify my ideas without having to defend them against the ideological intrusions of those who don't know why they think what they think. Although I realize that even my own ideas have originated in cultural contexts over which I had no control, I am still surprised that so few people are able to recognize how ingested and derivative their ideas may be. When people don't know why they think what they think they take on the character of automatons. If you are able to step back a little from the cultural indoctrination that you've been subjected to the world is a messier place than you ever imagined and certitudes begin to resemble nonsense.

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