Irreparable Damage?

When our across-the-street neighbors filled their front yard with ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flags and one-sided Trump banners aimed across the street, we decided we wouldn’t ask their adolescent boys to tend our plants in our absence. These neighbors, I’ll call them Kim and Mark, have been our friends for a decade. That relationship has survived by an absence of any political conversation since we all knew we stood on opposite sides of the street.

Kim and Morgan apparently took offense at our asking another neighbor to water the flowers instead of their sons. They have signaled their sentiment by ceasing even a semblance of communication. Not so much as a wave or a grin has floated across the street since September.

This section of West State Street is polarized. It might as well be the DMZ at Korea’s 38th parallel; no loud speakers though, it is a wall of silence, an impenetrable barrier from both sides. Since neither Jane nor I can imagine how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence or a smattering of morality can be supportive of a Trump second term, we do not intend to attempt to re-establish any fellowship.

Ours is a microcosm of the alienation that plagues our country. Combine this political chasm with a COVID-19 pandemic and isolation is as confining and claustrophobic as I can imagine contemporary life can be. I would guess that, except perhaps in border States, our Civil War did not cause such a reign of rancor between neighbors.

Has the social fabric of our nation been so ripped apart that it cannot likely be mended soon? Having been born under FDR in 1940, I do not have all that long to ponder that question. I fear though, that it shall take a newer deal than any proposed to patch the fabric. Have you even a thimble full of hope?


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10 responses to “Irreparable Damage?

  1. Some Trumpkins have remained my friends, but most haven’t, by either my choice or theirs, at least on Facebook. Some took offense at my questioning how their Christian beliefs allowed them to support an anti-Christ. Some stick out the arguments – both good-natured and angry – with me. Some are in my family, yet though we are divided by politics we still love each other. It is truly the worst social-political divide I’ve experienced in my 65 years, “trumping” even the Vietnam years. If we can all be an example of MLK’s notion of bringing our opponents into the Light instead of demonizing them, there may be hope. But there’s nothing like a good comedic satire to make us feel validated in our views, and Colbert and SNL do it for me every time.

  2. In times like these, all bets are off… it is not the time for positive steps amidst such chaos. Keep everyone you love close; those who are out of balance require more distance and time to find their best path. I believe it is not always our job to short circuit the potential growth and learning of others by overriding our natural sense of self-protection. You are wise to not engage with your neighbours on this issue and in your approach, I see an abundance of hope on display. Yours. You have left every possibility for reconciliation open for the future in the way you are handling things. Your concern and compassion is quite evident. Just continue being you, as everyone struggling needs to see these kinds of examples of how to stay true and not mess with people who are off on a tangent. Much joy and peace to you. Next few days/weeks aren’t going to be easy. Stay strong.

  3. C. Joseph

    Dear, dear friend and long-time soul brother—profoundly clear and heart-wrenching. Yet, as you know, you and Jane have a whole big bunch of friends who, like me and on your behalf, would cross any street and face any adversary up close and personal…

    –C. Joseph Sprague


  4. Rollin Tarter

    A thimbleful, yes. But sadly so. Afraid the election won’t change that. Places a different kind of pressure on the question, “And who is my neighbor”, I think.

    • Indeed Rollin, that question about my neighbor hangs over me like a judgment. Joyce’s earlier comment more than suggests that some kind of reconciliation is called for. As I said to her, I’ll probably be slow in adopting that behavior. My Buddhist leanings give me but the 8-fold Path to follow in my life. While I do recognize that the ‘tonglen’ practice asks me to look upon the suffering of my neighbor to be more compassionate toward my neighbor’s fear and anxiety, I haven’t yet developed sufficient self-compassion and healing to lay down sword and shield, by the riverside or next to the Lotus blossom. The question is indeed ‘who is my neighbor?’ Thanks for engaging this particular windmill tilt!

  5. Joyce

    I think we will have to re-learn (as in before social media via our computers) how to talk to each other face-to-face. Listening will have to be re-taught, tact will have to be defined, and the spoken “excuse me, I have to leave now” re-learned in tone and facial expression so that we can accept differences without swearing, spitting and screaming “fuck you” as we walk away.

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