Friday, May 24, 2019

It ain't easy!

It would be fantastically arrogant to suppose that we know that we have evolved into a kind of creature that likes living with those that smell different, look different, sound different. Sit in a railway carriage or bus in a land where you don’t speak a single word of the language. Have you ever noticed the panic that starts growing in your civilized soul, the sense that something is hideously wrong, that your very identity may soon be torn apart? It could be that autonomy is the natural form of the social unit, and that those who would thrust others together may be doing so in the name of a transcendent vision of justice, hope, human fairness, but that they may also be hurrying something very complicated. We don’t know. Human beings do tend to be with their own. Not all. Not the exceptional. But most human beings.

We’re speaking across a statistical mean, but it is a very massive one. Environment is heredity, and heredity is environment. That which you are born into — the privileges, the luck or the misfortune — is both heredity and environment. They cannot be separated. Cautionary rhetoric occludes this complicated recognition of interaction. The dialectic, the osmotic, which relate the mutations conceivable or feasible in this interaction, are radically beyond our understanding.—George Steiner, No Passion Spent, page 235

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