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Are We Friendly Enough??

Inclusive Individuals
I recently heard a story about a kind, compassionate, creative person who came to Denver and found themselves struggling to find meaningful connections. They wondered, "What's the secret handshake? Am I not cool enough?"

This story pains me.

Building intimacy within community is important. Finding meaningful ways to bond with each other matters. When our friendship circles become impenetrable, we are failing politically, socially, and ethically. We're moldy and dull.

Julia Kristeva writes about how hospitality is one of the great cultural virtues of the United States. Why do so many smug leftists, revolutionaries, and queers fail to show the slightest degree of grace in welcoming new folks to town? Why betray one of this country's few excellent cultural practices?

It's as though people presume a new person in town is fucked up until they prove otherwise. This is backwards.

Showing up with grace and generosity, love and a willingness to connect makes life worth living, community worth having, and radical politics possible. Many radical politics fail because they are insular, cult-like, and excessively judgmental.

From Stalin to the micro-fascisms that dwell within many consensus processes, the Left is plagued by people with an unquenchable thirst for power over others. Moral superiority and better-than-thou behavior betrays any pretense at building radical community. The moral high ground is too often taken at the expense of building a vibrant, fresh radical culture driven by collectivity, consideration, and generosity.

Too often, people gossip behind each others' backs failing to bring critiques to the people they judge. Instead of creating dialogue, they create barriers.

I'd love to see people give up their secret handshakes, their cultish bonds, and their bristles and open up to both new and familiar people who want to find a home in our town. Sure, it's scary to show up for people we don't know. That's precisely what is radical about the practice.

This is important 10.Aug.2011 15:25

invisible me

Although some folks may scoff at this post, you've hit on one of the downfalls of modern US culture.
It is increasingly hard, I think, to move to new city and find a community. In fact, the reason we use this word so much is because we don't have it! I know friendly, interesting, passionate good-hearted people who've been in Portland and Eugene for two decades and they feel isolated and lonely. It can be harder if you're over a certain age and not partnered.

I think it's a great thing to remind people to be friendly and welcoming to newcomers. It can be too easy to go to
an event and only talk to the people you know. And to organize open, free activities, as some often do here, so that people can meet each other.

If we don't reach out to each other, how will we survive much worse times in the future?