Seeking enrichment in a polarized world
Seeing eye to eye on everything has never been an expectation, or even a wish
In Real Life, I have — and have always had — a wide variety of friends and acquaintances with different lifestyles and views. Seeing eye to eye on everything has never been an expectation, or even a wish. I focus on those qualities of the person that I most appreciate, and on those areas of interest that we share. The process of personal enrichment that follows is mutual. Of course there can be conflict, too, but I tend to steer away from that, because why bother? People are people, and changing them is none of my business. I can always distance myself if something gets to be too much. This whole perspective and process I just described isn’t intellectual, political or ethical for me — it’s just an MO that feels right.
Who I read is like this too. It’s a wide range, and many of them are controversial in some way. Like my friends and acquaintances, I don’t expect to see eye to eye on everything, nor do I wish for it. There’s more than one writer who both deeply inspires me and deeply offends me, depending on the topic, so I focus on what enriches my understanding, and set the rest aside.
One of my favorite quotations is, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” Taken metaphorically, there’s so much truth you can mine from these ten words, not just about the built environment obviously, but about institutions and culture at large. Who said it? Winston Churchill, a racist, bellicose, imperialist asshole who advocated for the use of chemical weapons on civilians and was responsible for millions of people starving in India. So I’m not going to go around reciting this quote. But I appreciate how it enriched me when I first heard it, like three decades ago, before I knew his history and beliefs. I can also see that the words exist on their own, without him, too.
At present, I have a list of people I read who I’ll quote publicly and a list of people I read who I won’t. The first list is not comprised of people who nobody objects to, or who I always agree with, because it if it was, it would be empty. As for the second list, I won’t mention even a single name, because just mentioning some of…