When I was in Kennett High School in the early 60’s, I remember Dr. Linus Pauling won his second Nobel Prize for helping to get America and Russia to sign a test ban treaty.Winning a Nobel, let alone two, is my benchmark for a life well lived.
I remember an interview with Dr. Linus Pauling that year and the Norwegians asking him how, as a” lover of peace,” he could live in a country like the US with such a strong military-industrial complex. This eventually spoke to my personal experience because our country was fighting in Vietnam when I was in the 10th grade and six years later I went to Vietnam to fight the war for the first of my deployments.
Dr. Pauling said he loved his life at Caltech, where the people were supportive of him and his work. This made us feel proud that our country had communities where we would be nurtured and supported to do great work. We were a melting pot but had diversity and the opportunity to surround ourselves with likeminded people.
I feel I know the Caltech community, my daughter and her family live 11 miles away. My two grandsons are growing up in a nurturing community thatwill teach them about chemical bonds and quantum mechanics and let them earn their service merit badges from the Boy Scouts.
This last fall, I was feeling that no matter who won the election,I would still have my safe bubble here in Kennett with Quaker neighbors and family. Plus Kennett shows me the truth of something Dave Chappelle’s father said; “All politics are local and you can’t change the world, but you can make a corner of it pretty nice.”
Still, there are people who are in their own bubble, who claim what they read and hear is“fake news.” They may be on Parlor instead of Facebook and they can believe some of the QAnon stuff. Others are just afraid that if we don’t build a wall “those people” will come in and give us diseases if not commit crimes against “our people.”
There was a time I didn’t worry about that because we all deserve to be happy in our own bubbles. But now there is a broad belief that the election was stolen and our current leadership is illegitimate. Because people believe this lie,some of our congressional leaders wanted to overturn the election. In fact an insurrection followed whichkilled a number of people. We had to bring in 25,000 troops to protect the capital from domestic terrorists.
At one level our country is broken. 4,000 people a day have been dying from COVID. 16 million people are unemployed. Tens of millions of people don’t have adequate health coverage. Climate Change is putting Florida under water and reducing our food production while California burns. We have gone from virtually zero to 17 million kids being at risk for hunger. There is inequality as people of color are almost 3 times as likely to die from COVID and a lot more likely to be arrested and hurt by police.
These are things that effect all our bubbles and we can’t address them without a common understanding of object reality. Two-thirdsof the voters who voted for one candidate believe the election was a fraud and stolen. This makes it very hard to come together to fix our problems.
So embrace your bubble, make sure you surround yourself with people who helpmake you the best person you can be. But go outside and engage the world, be part of this melting pot that needs to address the great challenges of our time.
To me,England’s Brexit was a country saying we are going to live in our own bubble and the hell with the rest of the world. Big mistake. If the world is going to survive, each country needs to be part of the solution, not the problem. We have to do it ourselves, but we can’t do it alone.
This means we need to listen to people who do not see the world the way we do and develop a common understanding of object reality. Listening is hard, but reality is real. There will be people like QAnon that are probably beyond understanding. Most of the people I know make sense, at least from their perspective. We will only move forward when we are building on a foundation of facts and truth.
Like Linus Pauling, we need to live in a community that supports us and loves us, but if we are going to take on the challenges that the 21st century is handing us, we will need to collaborate, compromise, listen and work together for the common good.
Now we need to work on what is good for all of us. The cry is to listen and work together so we can expand the goodness we have developed here in Kennett Square to all of Pennsylvania and our country and our world
Is it good or bad to live in a bubble? It depends. It is good because we all should be able to live in our own little corner of paradise---It is bad if it distorts object reality and lets us lie to ourselves. So let us nurture our bubbles but engage in the world. We need to let the fresh air in and be part of the solution.