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Chaos and Calm

Photo: Acerting Art/YouTube
Sturm und Drang

Can’t help thinking that whatever adds to the current chaos is bad for everything — people, creatures, trees, air. Throughout history and mythologies, chaos is generally not considered a good thing.

What to do?

I like people who seek calm and who, when enmity is abroad in the land, try harder to find commonalities.

Yesterday as I was reading an advice column in the Globe, I saw a situation I recognized. A reader was upset that on social media, her hair stylist had criticized a politician she supports, and she was thinking of switching to a different salon. Maybe even telling her stylist the reason.

To the columnist’s credit, she didn’t think much of her reader’s rigidity.

But I recognized that thought process. Four years ago, I experienced some of the same impulses after reading a social media post. Fortunately, I came out safe on the other side. It didn’t seem like leaving my stylist would have been the action of a grownup, making a break with someone that I liked, that I shared many common interests with, that I never discussed politics with anyway. If I couldn’t build a bridge to someone I enjoyed talking to about recipes, children, Halloween costumes, nature, museums, and elephants, how could I (or the country) ever move beyond the point where we seem so stuck?

And there are other things to consider. I could afford to leave. I had options. She couldn’t afford to find a different job if she wanted to get away from the high percentage of clients whose politics opposed hers. She needed the income.

Another thought: shouldn’t that advice-column reader and I both be thinking about why hairdressers might have the kind of lives and experiences that make them gravitate toward a different kind of candidate or listen to a different kind of station for news? Who am I to say what this hardworking single mom’s life experience tells her?

A writer I admire who has lived on both sides of the current divide has been doing a great job of explaining one side to the other. Her name is Sarah Smarsh, and I heartily recommend the book that introduced me to her, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.

I also appreciated her insights in this recent Guardian article about the presidential election, and I’m on my library’s waiting list for her upcoming book on Dolly Parton, She Come By It Natural. Get to know her.

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