Goodbye, North Platte. For now.
It had to end. The journey that started on October 25 with a flight from DC to Denver ends tomorrow with a return flight. Today I drive the four hours from North Platte to Denver. I am at the Espresso Shop, sitting on an arm chair in the "living room" instead of in my "office". I am biding my time and watching the forecast, because it snowed about 4" last night and the wind has picked up and is reportedly driving the snow across the iInterstate. But I should be out of here within 30 minutes, because I don't know how long the drive will take.
The best thing about the drive is it will give me time to mentally draft my next post. Or posts. Here's a teensy preview:
Being a visitor has its advantages. I could engage in polite conversation about politics with complete strangers. We could talk about bullying, about my concerns for the safety of my students, friends and colleagues, and hope they could understand, or even empathize. I could voice my objection to propaganda and bad journalism, and even use specific examples. Only once did the discussion edge toward "crooked Hilllary" territory, and I head it off by sharing a specific debunked example of fake news.
But the main reason it stayed polite is my own restraint. Was it out of fear or courtesy? Or was my courtesy motivated by fear, not of physical harm, but social ostracism? There's a lot of that kind of fear in this small, friendly town. People need to be able to depend on each other, and anything that threatens to fray that relational safety net is to be avoided. So rather than speak from their hearts, people bite their tongues, if they are in the political minority. The majority can then find it easy to (1) assume everone is on their side, and to (2) imagine the political opposition as crazy, stupid, "others". North Platte has a very large political "closet". Would I be insid of it, or out?
Something to think about on the long drive to Denver.
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