“home” for June

I received quite the welcome to my primary lodging for the rest of this month. First of all, my bedroom has glow-in-the-dark stars. How cool is that?!! I’ve always wanted them. 🙂
Then, a spectacular meal by Neil and spirited discussion from Sai and Satya. What got us going is a book by Tariq Ali about the 1960s, Street Fighting Years. It is a sad commentary on my own education as a representation of general U.S. myopia, but I really didn’t know that the civil, social, and political turbulence of the 1960s was a global phenomena.
A few features of our interaction impressed me: the vigor of disagreements and that these lacked animosity, episodes of silence punctuating the exchange, and the sheer pace and density of thoughtfulness these young men possess. My own contributions felt fumbling and awkward by comparison. I recognize the vitality as a characteristic of youth (!) but also as indicative of intellectual and emotional presence: these young men have been actively aware of and engaged with their own lives and the world around them. Each of them is younger than I was when it first pierced my consciousness that such perception was even possible!
I’m looking forward to more debate. 🙂 In particular I’m eager to test an observation about a tendency toward extremes. One theme involved the experience of oppression and whether or not a member of a targeted group, such as African-Americans in the US, might prefer the overt racism of the South to the covert racism of the North. This was taken to the furthest ends of the continuum of violence: “I would prefer any day to live where I could sit down at a table with a white man instead of where I could be killed.”
Of course! It’s in the middle range of these extremes that the question becomes intriguing. Where is the boundary between tolerance and acceptance, to what extent is one valued over the other, under which conditions and circumstances, to what ends? I often reflect on the amount of tolerance I encountered during my most passionate, public activism. While I dwelt in the possibility of acceptance (presenting it as a challenge more than an invitation [aha!]), it was the tension itself that was instructive and compelling. That none of my exertions brought me into contact with direct violence seems coincidental – a coincidence of white-skin and apparent middle-class privilege and the good fortune not to encounter someone prone to violence at a vulnerable moment.

2 thoughts on ““home” for June”

  1. Tariq Ali: I was in the same demonstration as he was in London, protesting the war in Vietnam. Became Professor on the London School of Economics.. Interesting man

  2. OOOOO my friends will be jealous! 🙂 They are gonna keep me on my toes too – they’re honing my arguments for at least one of my comps questions. Great discussions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *