Dale Worley (achinhibitor) wrote,
Dale Worley

Contra David Brooks

David Brooks makes some sound observations about the value of rituals in binding together communities. Unfortunately, some of his ideas aren't well-aligned with modern realities. For instance,
In 1620, early European colonists formed the Mayflower Compact, in which they publicly vowed to “combine ourselves into a civil body politic.” Maybe neighborhoods and towns could come together to make town compacts. They would vow to be a community together and lay out the specific projects they are going to do together to address a challenge they face.

A public civic compact, publicly sworn to, involving all, would allow towns to do a lot of things. It would be an occasion to redraw the boundary of the community and thereby include those who have been marginalized. It could be done on a spot that would become sacred, becoming the beating heart of the community. It could be an occasion to tell a new version of the town story; a community is a group of people who share a common story.

But that wouldn't wash well with the urban professional class, because it's hard to make a ritual for "I've bought an expensive house in this suburb because it has good schools, i.e., precious few poor people can afford to live here. And as soon as my kids graduate from high school, I'll move out so I can stop paying the high taxes need to support these good schools." (Yes, a number of my friends from college have done exactly this.)

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