Another time and place: dirt streets, friendly neighbors and no fear

The Adams House

Facebook has eliminated lots of the emails that used to get passed around; now instead of forwarding the jokes, political messages, insights into the corruption of major corporations and warnings about some other danger that is being hidden from us by a conspiracy of conspirators, people just post them on their Facebook page.  Still, I know people that send those email messages to me, people that are not my friends on Facebook. But like the Facebook postings they forwarded the emails to everyone on their email list, so I suppose it is the same thing.

Facebook friends in itself could be an entire blog, actually a complete book or a course on modern philosophy, anthropology or sociology – the term friend is being  totally altered by its use on Facebook.  One day we will need a completely new word to describe close, personal, intimate  and somewhat deeper relationships that we formally called friendships.  The emailing friends of mine are of the old variety, people I really know and like, although we often do not share the same political views – the most common topic of the emails.  Sometimes I wonder if it is just because we were raised in different places; they are mostly my age, so it is not the times, but the places that might makes our thinking so different.

Lately I received an email from a man I have known and liked for 30 years; he was instrumental in helping me start my consulting business. He is retired now and divides his time between Washington and Arizona.  Our friendship had no political dimensions or discussions, but now his emails are frequently of a political nature, that and jokes about being old.  The email in question concerned a marine involved  an attempted robbery and is purported to have been posted on Craig’s list. In the post, the marine details all of the things he did to the would-be robber that would make the robber’s life unbearable and that after the marine pulled a gun on the robber, causing him to soil his trousers and then took his shoes and wallet.  By forwarding the email it seems people somehow feels empowered in the face of a world filled with threatening things.   Vicariously they are able to get revenge on all of those gangsters, crooks and bullies that they believe  rule the streets of big cities.   It is something we can all understand, the modern streets feel threatening and dangerous; we feel powerless against the criminals, but also against governments and corporations. It is easy to empathize with that helplessness and a desire to get revenge.

I was raised in another era and certainly in another place, the streets were dirt, the town had 3000 citizens and we all knew each other.  I was raised around men who did not feel that kind of fear.  They may have been afraid at times, but they faced every situation with a feeling of confidence in their ability to defend themselves, solve problems and live life on their terms.  In those days, everyone I knew had a gun, every house had guns; everybody respected guns and knew how to use them.  No man in my family ever talked about being afraid to walk down a street, to go out in the dark or of having an assailant attack and rob him.  They were not bigger, stronger or braver than anyone else, they just were not afraid of their world; their confidence empowered me to share their world view. It was a different era, other times and other places.

So, when I get one of those emails, I may understand the emotions behind it and be sympathetic,  I don’t share them.  It is not the way I was taught to think.

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June 2012
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