Tuesday, June 29, 2010

These Are the Last Days of U.S. Grant - Personal - The Atlantic

These Are the Last Days of U.S. Grant - Personal - The Atlantic

1 comment:

  1. Here is what I posted in response to TNC's beautiful comment:

    I choose compassion. It took all the accidents and intentions of generations to produce me, and if I reject any of these people, I reject me.

    When I was a kid, I used to imagine what would happen if I woke up in the time of the Puritans, or if a little Puritan girl turned up in late 1970's Houston. I wondered how to explain the washer and dryer, the refrigerator, the Chevy Impalas my parents drove. I also wondered if I could handle no air conditioning, no bug spray, having to kill the animals we needed for food. I never thought about race relations. The point is that I knew on some level that there would be a lot of cultural, social, and intellectual challenges for both that little girl and for me to conquer, in order for us to survive in each other's time.

    So I come back to compassion. Think of the Amazonian communities that have until very recently known nothing of 21st century ways, and all the changes that created them. How do you go from a hunter-gatherer culture to a high-tech culture in the course of a moment -- and not lose your mind? How DO you embrace the ways of your ancestors and the ways of peoples you didn't know existed before now?

    And I wonder about my parents -- how did they go from a world in which blacks were forced to live apart from whites, to one in which their children could choose to live, work and socialize with whites? I know school integration was bewildering for them, even though they were both college graduates -- because they didn't know if we would be truly accepted. But I did see them engage and build ties across a divide that the Lost Causers thought was heaven-sent -- because it was people, not "groups," not "stereotypes," doing the connecting.

    For me, Grant is the same as my parents, and the Amazonians, and maybe that little Puritan girl, and hopefully me as well: constantly buffered by change, and free to figure out how to deal with it. So I honor and respect him for his willingness to change, and because I'm human, I expect him to be complicated and contradictory at the same time. If he were completely without contradiction, he wouldn't be human; he'd be a fantasy. I prefer the man, and I think he'd see me as the woman I am -- fabulous and a mess of contradictions wrapped into one.

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