My dad used to say that clergy were like manure – okay spread out, but in a pile, we stink. He was an attorney no less! Having just spent four days with fourteen thousand writers and publishers, he didn’t know the half of it.
It must be the same whenever people of common profession, mission, or interest gather in cohorts large and small. I remember sitting in the faculty lounge at the college where I was an adjunct professor and overhearing belabored moans and whimpers that seemed to me, an outsider, well beyond reasonable. Herds of clergy do in fact, whine and complain like cats in the rain. What is it about human beings that we are so easily submerged into crowd squalor?
Other herd animals appear more graceful at their conventions than we do. Take water buffalo or wildebeest grunting and snorting on the savannah. Sure, when a predator shows up there is some chippiness, but the buffalo circle in a strong defensive formation around the vulnerable, while wildebeest recognize staying in riot of other bodies on the run is to everyone’s advantage. Humans? We break off into groups and grouse, or point at other groups and shout, “Lock ‘em up!”
It is interesting to contrast this in-group/out-group behavior with how most people couple-up. Humans are more often than not attracted to people with opposite qualities than to someone who is just like themselves. Opposites attract, as they say.
The reason for an attraction to someone not made in own image, is our nascent or intuitive recognition that the other has something we lack or need to develop in ourselves. In the other, we see strengths and qualities we desire but do not possess ourselves. I am wondering how we could encourage a social romance between the Beto or Bernie legions with the “Locker Her Up” crowd.
Think about it. What if our various tribes began to recognize in “the other” the ache for what we are missing in ourselves? Imagine what might happen if the Beto-ites could feel the fear and see the limitations the Trump-ites hold inside, while the Trumpies were able to somehow sense the hurt and vulnerabilities experienced by the Beto-ites? They may well continue to disagree on solutions and policy, but would it be as acidic and bitter? I don’t think so.
I know, that is naive. We homogenize, gentrify, and balkanize instead. We circle the wagons and kick out those who are different and force them to make it on their own. The problem is that it does not help us thrive, just the opposite. It is the same thing as happens when the gene-pool gets too small. Congregating into smaller and smaller knots of like-mindedness dumbs down whatever group does it, and limits its potential for growth and development. It may be naïve to expect something different, but if we do not expect, plan, and demand otherwise, the future is dim.