by VASSAR BUSHMILLS

We’re family here. And community. But not just any community.

The German sociologist Tonnies came up with the names gemeinschaft (community) and geselleschaft (society) to describe basic ways Man organizes his social relationships. The latter expresses the still rather new idea of men pursuing their own self interests and forming social groupings around those pursuits. It’s relatively new because for most of Man’s existence he wasn’t allowed to do this. America more or less began this trend in 1776, where men could aspire to rise above their station, and  move into new classes, by merit rather than luck, which was about the only way a person could move vertically in the old regimes. On the whole it is a good thing, but with some melancholy, as I’ll describe.

Except in third world tribal societies, we scarcely see gemeinschaft groups anymore, but there is still a great deal of nostalgia for them in America, for while such communities were static, and tragically so, sometimes for centuries (witness the Dark Ages) some represented an ideal of harmony you can never find in a fast-paced modern society without at least three stiff whiskeys, over rocks, while listening to Mascagni’s Cavalerria rusticana, and admiring a brilliant sunset.

The gemeinschaft community weighs on the American soul like an ancient memory, for we almost all come from people who came from some village somewhere over there. Even those who have never known it, such as my sons, they recognize it when they see it…in film, literature, art…for there is in us all a deep yearning for the peace of a more simple and humble life the modern age can’t provide. It’s why untutored girls rush to see a Jane Austen film. Remember the Welsh coal town in How Green Was My Valley? Or the village Innisfree in John Ford’s The Quiet Man? Who wouldn’t give worlds for just a few days to be in those quieter times and simpler places?

Well, some people in America have been lucky enough to have had a gemeinschaft community as part of their history. Farm kids may still know this. So do old folks…and now, I’m old.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in a town of 1000 that was a mile long, and except in some places, never more than two blocks wide, and always on only one side of a winding creek. Only one road in and one road out.

Intermittently, especially after I was 14 or 15, I hated it. But my mother loved it and grieved about it all her life after she’d left it. Let me tell you why.

There were no helicopter parents in my town. When I was 5 my dad took me down to the highway, where on the other side of the road stood the company store, meat market, and an office building. We spent thirty minutes learning to look both ways, then cross the street. I did it solo the last fifteen. Satisfied, he told me to never, never come here unless your mother sends you. Understand? OK, Dad. Next day my mother told me to go to the meat market and pick up a package of cuts, Mr Loscomb will have them waiting for you. Just tell him who you are. Then come straight home.

I did this three or four more times, then one day, my mother said Mrs Cope had called to ask if I could to her house and play with Gary Wayne. They lived about four streets over. You can go there, but not to any of the streets beyond. And so it went. By the time I was 6 my range had spread about eight streets in every direction, and when I was 9 I joined Little League at a ball field that was at the other end of town, almost a mile. I walked back and forth to practice every day, and quickly learned where the dogs were, and whose yards you could cut through and whose you couldn’t. Just be back for supper was all Mom ever said. I thought I was free.

But was I? Well, let’s just say this gemeinschaft nostalgia, which my mother clung to until Alzheimers finally overtook her, was a Mom-thing, and not a kid thing, for no matter where I went in that town there was a telephone pole or lamp post with an invisible Wanted poster on it, with my picture on it and it said “This is Polly’s boy, and if you ever see him spit, or smoke a cigarette, or chew, or say a cuss word, just call BR-549 and I will bake you a chocolate cake. You also have my permission to swat him one and send him home.” Even today, I am stunned to think, of all the swattings I got, that so many came at the hands of near total-strangers, with my mother’s approval! And the damndest thing, almost every other kid I knew  had the same Wanted poster up on him, too.

It was a conspiracy that lasted until I graduated from high school, for there was no back alley I could sneak down, no outhouse that I could sneak into, or big honeysuckle I could hunker down behind to try to light a damp Pall Mall without some woman peering out her kitchen window, her hand trembling by the phone, just waiting to see a plume of smoke rise up so she could call Mom and cash in on that chocolate cake bounty.

Knowing this, you don’t even want to know how it was once I’d discovered the fairer sex, and tried to sneak a peck on the lips from Linda Lou, or cop a….down those same dark alleys. There were eyes everywhere. Sinning was hard in those days.

But yes, we had our share of “don’t-give-a-damn” families in our town, and their kids had the run of place; smoking, chewing and cussing just about anyplace they pleased, which only added to our misery. We were so jealous of them we could just about spit.

Unified Patriots is about as gemeinschaft a community as you will find on the internet. We keep the doors unlocked, you’ll always find a light on, and you’ll never have to worry about stray dogs running the streets or anyone siccing their dog on you. There will always be a seat around the fire.

A few rules do apply, good manners mostly, and if you’re so young you never were taught any, we’ll help you learn some. We’re a patient bunch. Even if you are of the left, even if you are an elitist, you can still come in and try your sales pitch. To a point. I have a three-step rule, to determine your true intentions, and others here have their own rules as well…all fair and easy to understand.

We generally demand you be honest with your facts, and at least plausible with your opinions. As I said, three steps. We have our own proof system here, but it stands up in most courts, so will be applied judiciously. There is a jury, actually more than one, as everything you say, and we say to you, will be seen by 1000’s you don’t know are there, plus the few who have the power to show you the door. You may think we’re unfair, but the larger audience won’t.

We’re even congenial about some kinds of “conspiracy theories” in part because we’ve bumped up close to the broader meaning of the term ourselves. For instance, we’ll cut you short shrift on 911 “truther” theories about Bush and the Twin Towers, and while no one really wants to talk to “birfers” if you can tell us why why we should care, and what it means to America today, maybe we’ll listen. But if you come in and cite the really big conspiracy we’re all concerned about, namely that the Left really is trying to take over America, and dump the Constitutional plan, well, pull up a chair and sit a spell, because a lot of Americans (some conservatives, even) don’t want to believe this. We’d like to hear what you have to say.

I’m probably a bit more lenient with cussing, for in an argument, just like hitting your thumb with a hammer, sometimes profanity can provide a relief denied even unto prayer.(Mark Twain). But lose the words with hard “k’s”, and words that tells us you learned to cuss in third grade, and then quit learning to get any better. If you can’t curse artfully you sure as hell can’t think artfully.

Just know this

We here at UP are engaged in a relentless pursuit of the Left. I said pursuit, and we mean it. This is not a debating society, but a teaching and action forum, not a piano recital. We exchange ideas. You can be against us. That’s fine. You may be for us, but not like our analysis, points of view, or strategies. That’s also fine. But at some point, we have to bag up what we’ve learned for the week, and go back down into the basement to plot still other things, what we do best is often out of view. We can’t sit around and order another pitcher of draft waiting for you to get every little thought out of your system. We’ve heard it all before and you’ve likely said it all before. Just settle in and enjoy the community, because whether you know it or not, you’re going to find yourself jerked up from your seat some day, a rolled-up newspaper thrust into your hand, and find yourself marching, shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest Americans who ever breathed…in any century. You’ve just been shanghaied.

Welcome to the community.

vassarbushmills
Citizen With Bark On