So much water so close to home

This is a story by Raymond Carver. I’ll summarize it here, briefly and from memory because I haven’t read it for a while:

A bunch of men went fishing and found a young woman in the river. She was dead, but I don’t remember why (drowning or some other cause). They figured that she was dead anyway, attached the body so it wouldn’t float away, and went ahead with their fishing weekend.

I feel this way about our worries for our economies and the moral implications of what coming out of confinement means. The men in the story had come a long way to fish and it was a long way back, so they didn’t interrupt their enjoyment to tell the woman’s family immediately, for example, or give the police more time to investigate why she had died.

It wasn’t obvious to them when they were out with each other, but it became obvious when they came back home and realized that they should have gone to the police right away. That’s one of the side effects of cutting people off from each other. We no longer have the moral influence of our friends and other social connections to help us understand what is “right” and “wrong” (these are not absolutes, but a consensus).

It is obviously “right” in many places to keep our distances, wear masks, protect the elderly and infirm, but because we are left to our own devices at home with nothing but Netflix to guide our moral compass, it’s easy to get lost.

What is “right” is also, normally, a mix of whoever we run across in life; it probably includes a lot of people with varying opinions and we test ourselves against them and come up with our own definition. At home, with only the internet to exchange with, we aren’t challenged to listen to anyone else, and our own interests are reinforced to the point that we don’t even remember that many people don’t believe and think exactly the same way we do.

I have to be honest, I read the alt-right sometimes. Sometimes I can’t; it’s just too depressing and mean-hearted (I’ve got the “bleeding heart” part of being liberal, I guess), but I want to see the other rabbit holes and not only my own. It’s different down the other holes, and you can’t understand them unless you’ve at least peeked.

At the end of the Raymond Carver story, there’s no solution. The main character goes home to his wife, who is horrified that he didn’t act to alert anyone about the girl immediately (was he guilty of something more nefarious?) but while she doesn’t really forgive him, they just go on.

That’s what we need to be able to do now. Not necessarily forgive people who are making this worse, but at least go on. People promoting violence now need to be reminded that it’s not okay. You don’t hang in effigy some governor who you don’t agree with, or send death threats. You do need to make sure that your opinion is heard, but you should not threaten people who don’t agree with you.

I’m trying to fill my rabbit hole with love and understanding, and to spread the word that it’s good to disagree with each other, but it should be done with kindness and respect.

This is what I talk about when I talk about Foro…

Where water comes together with other water

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