That America is a country greatly divided is being discussed in the papers since yet another madman has show us that we have more to fear from homegrown crazies than we do from foreign terrorists in our airplanes. In today's NYTimes Paul Krugman quotes part of Pres. Obama's eloquent speech about what Americans need to do: "expand our moral imaginations, listen to each other more carefully ... remind ourselves of all the ways or hopes and dreams are bound together." Krugman feels this is whistling in the wind for Americans are hopelessly divided in their moral imaginations and understanding of hopes and dreams. It seems to me that the majority of people do not want to listen more carefully to others ro expand their moral imaginations. Nothing is scarier to most people than giving up the moral imagination that guides their lives. What others are saying is terrifying as it implies we may have to give up some of the shaky certainties of our lives. Others are so different that we can demonize them and contemplate violence against them as the only way to allay our disatisfactions. It's a scary world out there.
The Atlantic by Christia Freeland that not only quotes Fitzgerald but goes to considerable length showing just how different the super rich are becoming from all the rest of us. They so rich that one wife says $20 million a year is not enough [for the four houses, the jet and their life style]. Freeland points out that it is not only American super rich but those worldwide from Russia to Singapore to Abu Dhabi to Park Avenue. These people are unlike any super rich in the past. Most are self-made, not benficiaries of past wealth. Some are in fact, relatively young, in their 40s, even 30s. They relate to one another, not to the populace of their own countries. They DO practice philanthropy -- or at least many of them do. The gap between those super rich and the normal working person grows wider all the time. Most of the working people do not really know about the super rich; they think sports and movie stars with their income in the one digit millions a year are super rich. I invite you to click that link in the side bar and read the article.
Which is finally to say that we are not only a divided country, we are an increasingly divided world. Is there any point in reading widely as I do? Does knowing these things add anything positive to my life? Or is it all negative? I think knowledge is always positive, but that it's important to keep in mind all knowledge is partial and multifaceted. I don't have answers but I always have questions. And often astonishment at the pieces of answers I find.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!