|Lovers Across the World. Digital painting by Tim Holmes|
Whatever your politics, you have to accept that the world is getting smaller. National boundaries dissolve, more people have personal experience in more than their home countries, and kids no longer live in the same time zone as their parents. Much as we love our own tribe we have to crawl out of the cave to the realization that our neighbors will be increasingly different from ourselves as we mix into a colorful melange. In her book The New Religious Intolerance, Martha Nussbaum eloquently pleads for the use of our “inner eyes,” for that “curious and sympathetic imagination” that is adept at “recognizing humanity in strange costumes.” My Montana home is still largely monotone in skin color and the sight of a face of a different cast than my own could be cause for delight instead of a fear of invasion. What will we choose?
We could react with fear and rage over the demise of traditional values and try to push our strange neighbors over the cliff, or abandon our kids when they form friendships with their kids. That's one kind of life. Or we could, while upholding our shared values, learn to apprehend the spicy ideas around us, including them them like hot sauce in our deliberations. Whatever we decide, the world will not get any bigger. We will be living together. This is the future. What we imagine is the world we will inhabit.