Sometimes a little contrast is a good thing. I pointed readers to Two--Four yesterday, a site I can always promise will be interesting, and Billy Beck wrote a piece welcoming visitors. (He lives just outside of Dryden, close enough for Living in Dryden purposes.)
What he wrote - about Dryden and in general - clarified some thoughts I've had about this site and the rest of the work I do. Not that I agreed with it - we definitely come at the world from different perspectives. He writes:
I might point out that I could be just as friendly as the next guy, except on those days when I am mortally concerned for my country, because my first political touchstone is freedom.
I hadn't really thought about "my first political touchstone" before, but it came to me quickly on reading this - community. Community and the trust that's the vital ingredient for creating, sustaining, and building it.
You can pretend you have community if you don't have trust, but what you probably have is convenience. I can live with that sometimes, and don't necessarily object to working with people I don't trust, but in the end trust lets us get a lot more done, without hating each other. Making that work will, of course, require a lot of freedom. Trust doesn't seem to work in authoritarian systems either.
One thing I've always enjoyed about reading Two--Four is that despite our different touchstones, we both seem to share a suspicion of of power. I suspect for him it's because the abuse of power leads quickly to violation of individual rights, while for me it's because the abuse of power leads quickly to the violation of trust and the demise of community. Even though we're completely different in many ways - I can't imagine thinking of the Village of Dryden as "way too commie for me" - I think we might still have enough in common to both keep at least some aspects of the world from going even further out of whack than they've already gone.
As I said, though, Two--Four is always interesting, worth reading for some necessary contrast with the way I'm comfortable thinking.Posted by simon at April 4, 2008 1:27 PM in why