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Living in a Civil Society

I was born in New York City in 1971. I have lived my whole life in America. I am American as they come.

Last summer, I heard and read many news articles in which my fellow citizens mentioned the possibility of an oncoming Civil War. My reaction to these predictions was always the same:

It’ll never happen.

Yes, there is division in America. Yes, America’s political parties do not work together well. But Americans are never going to take arms against each other again, for the simplest and most obvious of reasons:

People gotta work in the morning.

I know that sounds like a joke; or at least a punchline, but I am being as serious as a Civil War heritage re-enactor. The only reason the Confederacy worked the first time was because the Confederate government was able to amass the funds to pays its soldiers. Soldiers do not fight for free. No army in the history of war has ever fought for free. Who out there is willing to bankroll an army of Liberals to fight an army of Conservatives?

That’s what I thought. That’s why we vote. Civil War II, my Aunt Fanny.

But I will tell you something that is “civil” about the Liberal vs. Conservative Culture Wars that were first exploited by the Schafly-Goldwater New Conservatives of the early 1960s RNC as a reaction to New Deal socialism, and then was formed as America reacted to the late 1960s Countercultural Movement: Both Liberals and Conservatives sure know how to be civil to each other in public. Has anyone but me noticed that?

I am a large black man. I am aware of the statement my identity makes to the world. Many people assume what my political beliefs are because of my racial identity. And I have never had more people hold the door open, wish me a good day, or smile as they give me my change, than I have since January 6, 2021. It has been unreal. People are soooo nice to me. But sometimes I just cannot help thinking that those same people go home and go online and say things about people who look like me that belie that veneer of civility. Maybe that will mark this new era; maybe the Civil War II will be marked by us being more civil to each other in the Real World, while waging war online. Less blood, but cleaner and with A/C.

It is my hope that people will shed the insincere veneer of civility and start to get real with each other, like how they promised on The Real World 30 years ago on MTV that adulthood was a place where it was time stop being polite. But in fact it seems like politeness, and not realness, is the definition of American adulthood today. I feel like sometimes American adults are so polite to each other that we could probably learn a thing or two from the realness of our children. It is absolutely possible for us do the self-work necessary to stop letting our egos do the talking, and to start working and communicating together from a place of humility and goodwill towards each other.

But . . . you know . . . people gotta work in the morning.

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