Many times I’ve reflected on the relative peacefulness of North Shore life separated as it is from what many, the majority I suppose, experience daily on congested streets, busy markets, crowded elevators, and jostling crowds in hallways. Driving home in a private car could be a respite from people pressure if not for the everlasting sense of rush hour traffic soon to grow more rushed. The last preserve of personal peace might be home. Like a child’s room, home has promise of peace in the form of one apartment among many or a single home amid rows of others where sounds boom through walls or cacophony snarls from a mower or revved engine. I’m glad not knowing when a neighbor shuts their door, what music they like, along with many other parts of life called urban but that is not urbane.

But the peacefulness of the countryside is only deep as people let it be. Contention can arise from the most minor seeming incident just as some see a peaceable world from a mere application of gauze. In my happy little rural world people get at one another’s throats on a fairly regular basis. A feud can grow over a survey marker or an unthinking (we all share them) comment. A person looking to vent will find a way same as someone seeking the ills of bias will find it everywhere but in their own seeking. It’s the way people are. When a fact or let’s say evidence diminishes or heaven-forbid contradicts our view we’ll like as not insist adamantly that fact is wrong. Does this sound at all familiar? I suspect that only if you’d been raised by machines in an isolated facility on Antarctica where you had zero human interaction would you either not have observed or done the above.

We are strange creatures, we humans. But I don’t think a body needs, as I do, live in rustic semi isolation to see what appears otherwise so blood and gore obvious. I gape in amazed sympathy when I see sincere intention put effort out and achieve so little result. I’ll feel that every (yes, every) time I see yet another candlelight vigil or similar act of insensible compassion not one of which has ever (yes, ever) prevented violence. Such ritual events happen in the countryside, I think enabling participants to feel part of some larger purpose they surely will not find in an ineffectual ritual act. But no matter. Candles will be lit. Placards will be held. Violence and hate will be denounced by people who collectively don’t need that message and as a group exhibit a Tinkerbell faith in wishing. It’s a lovely thought (on occasion kindness about such things is an acceptable tactic) on their part, but I wonder if consideration was given. Is it really laudable when a group does nothing more useful than sing to the choir and draw imaginary distinctions with the result they accomplish nothing other than feeling proud of self for so doing. Do they not see this is a form of mental masturbation, and in public, too?

It is often the case that emotion rules behavior and will grandly sweep away any reasoning or fact with a nay in it. An emotionally satisfying conclusion lasts longer than the soothing effect of an after-sex cigarette to top off the job well done. Emotion based conclusions are pretty much the rule. I am continually wary of them and vigilantly on guard to avoid the seduction of emotional self-gratification. I know people, some nice ones, who need regular anti-Trump expression to keep the happy meters filled. If you don’t go to the same fuel pump they assume you’re a Trump supporter. I was never in the habit of bashing or lauding Obama and I carry the same for Trump. In any case, someone wishing to bring me over to the light gave a most sincere pronouncement that Trump was the worst ever for treatment of women. This may be, but I didn’t need to dive deep in order to challenge the dialog with one name, Monica Lewinsky. That was a conversation stopper, I suspect because the other party took that as Trump affirmation rather than as statement of fact.

Some will say my attitudes rise from being a privileged white male, a form, then, of astrology where race and gender provide the destiny of one’s stars. Individual determination and effort are discarded in the new astrology. The more astute of the new astrologers will factor in age and culture as well in order to convert the individual into a more manageable iconic cipher with no will or existence other than to fill the box into which they wish to put it. Those practicing the new astrology may rarely set foot in any of the more conservative edifices of worship, but they certainly carry on with papal infallibility in a search for justice un-blinded to better achieve an emotional reward. And, ah how nice it is when one’s devoutly held preconceptions can go unchallenged.

In many instances we’re told an emotionally driven conclusion is a full bodied truth, and sometimes there are elements of true in the conclusion. Did western colonialism play a role in bringing about certain events and situations? Yes, but if you go that argument you can’t leave out the equally grave impact of eastern colonialism done by the sizeable Ottoman Empire that met its end only a few decades ahead of the demise of the other colonial powers. You can’t ignore that around the globe colonial type expansion was common including on the New World with Aztec and Inca empires. If your goal is truth and justice why blame the West when they can also be credited for being prudent regarding family size and sustainability? Does some responsibility for poverty and chaos not rest on the shoulders of whatever culture disregards prudent behavior? Societies encouraging multiple wives and many offspring currently contribute more human distress than the colonialism of 100 years ago. Neither justice nor improvement is not served by ignoring fact.