When I asked what worried him most in his new position, I expected him to say ISIS or Russia or the defense budget. Instead, he said, “The lack of political unity in America. The lack of a fundamental friendliness. It seems like an awful lot of people in America and around the world feel spiritually and personally alienated, whether it be from organized religion or from local community school districts or from their governments.
“I come out of the tight-knit Marine Corps, but I’ve lived on college campuses for three and a half years,” he went on. “Go back to Ben Franklin—his descriptions about how the Iroquois Nations lived and worked together. Compare that to America today. I think that, when you look at veterans coming out of the wars, they’re more and more just slapped in the face by that isolation, and they’re used to something better. They think it’s P.T.S.D.—which it can be—but it’s really about alienation. If you lose any sense of being part of something bigger, then why should you care about your fellow-man?”I don't know about spiritual alienation, but I think unemployment leads to personal alienation, especially if one is cut off from their professional community. I don't often talk about this stuff, but I wonder if society is more atomized, and people are less likely to be a part of communities outside of their families and their work. If that's the case and work is taken away from folks, it's not surprising that people feel alienated. (I wonder if that's what happens to people who leave graduate school?)
So over this long weekend, I guess I have a question for everyone: what real life communities are you a part of? I'll go first: my family, my extended family, my kids' school, our church, my professional community and other friends as well. You?