Us Vs. Them
The Real War Seems To Be Over
This will be short because I’m suffering from a bad head cold. I should not have gone into work today! Be that as it may…
I have often thought that the real battle ground in this country is not Democrat vs. Republican, Liberal vs. Conservative or anything like Black vs. White. In my youth, many tried to tell me the war was between the young and the old. It wasn’t. Feminists tried to tell me that it was men vs. womyn. That was so off the mark “it wasn’t even wrong.”
In the political history of this country, it certainly seems like the battles have been North vs. South, continuing to this day with the red-blue state divide that’s been so talked about. Neil Young got that wrong, too.
No, the real divide that has been ongoing, virulent, politically charged (especially in my native state of New York) and fought by culture is the divide between urban and rural. The city folk think the country folk are stupid rubes. The country folk think the city folk are just plain crazy.
THE CITY HAS always been an engine of intellectual life, from the 18th-century coffeehouses of London, where citizens gathered to discuss chemistry and radical politics, to the Left Bank bars of modern Paris, where Pablo Picasso held forth on modern art. Without the metropolis, we might not have had the great art of Shakespeare or James Joyce; even Einstein was inspired by commuter trains.
And yet, city life isn’t easy. The same London cafes that stimulated Ben Franklin also helped spread cholera; Picasso eventually bought an estate in quiet Provence. While the modern city might be a haven for playwrights, poets, and physicists, it’s also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place.
Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes.
So the rural population is right ’bout the craziness. Pity, because they’re losing the war.
This research arrives just as humans cross an important milestone: For the first time in history, the majority of people reside in cities. For a species that evolved to live in small, primate tribes on the African savannah, such a migration marks a dramatic shift.
We’re not all city folk, yet. But the balance has shifted that way.
Thanks to Neo-Neocon for the link.