It Takes a City

September 25th, 2012

Inspired by President Obama’s speech at the UN today and the new Miracle Whip Mayonnaise commercials, here’s a metaphor which I think applies to the Middle East, but also to groups in the U.S. which fear and lash out against modernity. Many of the conflicts in today’s world purportedly between Islam and other religions, or between Evangelical Christianity and supposedly anti-Christian values are in my view much more appropriately described as a conflict between change and the forces that oppose it. Opposing the broad forces of change out of fear is after all generally a losing battle. Isn‘t it better to have hope and faith that change can be for the better, and that we as a society can make it so?

 

“Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied… We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations—to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living. It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this—to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other —because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people. And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, ‘The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.’ The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.” — President Obama at the UN today 

 

Hillary said “it takes a village,”

And the way she meant it is true.

But not everything’s good

That villagers do.

 

Cities represent change,

Both bad and good

Because big groups of people

Don’t always do what we should.

 

But we learn to live together,

Though it’s not always pretty.

In our modern society,

It takes a city.

***

In a small village, you don’t meet many people of different races, religions, or creeds. The streets are rarely, if ever, crowded.

In a big city, there are lots of different people, and almost always crowds. Some of the people do things you don’t like, things that they’d never be allowed in the village. In a crowd, someone may bump into you, or step on your foot? Regardless of whether it was accidental or on purpose, if you lash out whenever that happens, you’re going to constantly be getting into fights. And if other people do the same, you yourself will often be suddenly punched in the face when for accidentally bumping into someone.

Do you want to live in the city, or the village? Choose.

But choose for yourself, and let others choose for themselves too.

***

Here’s the President’s speech.

Here’s the Miracle Whip village commercial. Like the plug, Kraft? Just Paypal me $100 and we’ll call it even. For more about the unfortunately historical persecution of witches (and self-perceived persecution of one modern-day adherent), read our witches series.

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