Public image. Private reality.

Memories of visiting the USA more than a decade ago.

Of England. Of planning a trip to visit USA family. Of planning to see how they lived. Of expecting no excitement. Of desiring no expensive entertaining. Of wishing no cultural education. Of needing no tourist trail. Of wishing to see real people. A people of all nations. A people made strong by diversity.

Of Florida.  Of a flag that had to be hung “just so” from the boat lift/mooring of a home like so many homes.  July 4th pre-preparations.  Of hearing muted murmurs of emotion the following morning.  Of the neighbour who had knocked on the door.  And of finding out the power of that flag still.  A nation divided by a confederate flag.  A nation weakened by fear.

Of North Carolina.  Of driving with USA family to see other USA family.  Of turning off a main road onto a minor road.  Of one asking the other if it was safe.  The reason being a bunch of people on the corner.  People who were not white.  And of finding out how near the surface fear of equality really is.  A nation divided by equality.  A nation weakened by fear.

Of the White House.  Of grass cut three inches high even here.  Of a need for uniformity in public details of expectation and public norms.  Of a public/surface layer of membership.  A membership of earned privilege.  A club of political posturing.  A club of wealth and entitlement.  A nation divided by expectation.  A nation weakened by entitlement.

Of England again.  Of realising this great nation I had thought great is not.  This nation is another collection of people.  A nation like any other.  A nation that projects a public global  image.  A nation that protects a private local reality.  A president that does not speak for the nation.  A president who speaks for the institution.  An institution divided by political need.  An institution weakened by political need.

Of realising with sadness that the USA is as fragmented as any names on the map.  And realising with sadness that the other names on the map prefer the fiction.  The fiction of the USA’s public global image.  Of realising with sadness how we all prefer the fiction most of the time.   Almost all the names almost all of the time.

Tonight in England your private local reality becomes your public global image.  And all the names on the map will quietly forget they too have such moments.  Because expressions of outrage always require a selective memory.

I prefer the confusion of real people to the selective certainty of political expediency.  And families don’t thrive on either politics or expediency.  And you are family.  Global family.  The internet has made us all global family.  Big business has made us all global family.  And the financial markets are simply the global family’s betting shops.

My money is on love.  That is what holds families together and fixes reality.

Even through the tough times.


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