Monday, September 17, 2007

Why are there walls that separate us---

Last weekend I went to a political picnic. It was a good idea and was wonderfully organized. People brought in potluck dishes that only contained food that was raised within 100 miles. (Not a terribly difficult thing to do in Southern Ontario in August---it is one of the best agricultural areas in the world.)

It should have been a good time, but the more I think about it, the more I have a sense of sadness.

First of all, I met a Jesuit aquaintence who told me that he had joined the Green Party but he couldn't vote for it because a policy plank that the media has chosen to fixate says a Green government would remove government funding for Catholic schools. (It is a big issue in this election for some ridiculous reason.) Another friend, who is the leader of the Green Party came over to say "hi" and the two had a somewhat heated, but quite good-natured debate.

Secondly, our new federal leader came over to speak. She is a bit of a media star and very much a "parachute" from outside of the old Green Party. One of the things that wrankles me about her is the way she constantly name drops (it appears that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Gorbachov, the Premier of Ontario, etc, are all friends.) I know that it adds luster to her for a lot of people, but to me it just seems cheap.

Finally, one of our members has been elected to city hall and he was talking to me about our local downtown, which has a significant problem with hooliganism due to the huge number of bars that are allowed in a very small area. He feels that he is on the "outs" with the mayor's faction, whom he thinks sees no problem at all with the number of bars. I know all of these people and consider them my friends. It saddens me to see how they end up seeing people split up into "us" and "them" groups.

I sit on the outside of most of this because I am fully aware that I am not much more than a two-dimensional character in these people's lives. I help then when I can with their projects, but even if I invite them over to my home for a barbeque, I know that I will never really be able to hear what they really think about things. Perhaps this is because they want to keep things private in order to manipulate me. Perhaps they have worked so hard to "fit in" that they have lost the ability to easily open up. Perhaps they are so inarticulate that they cannot find the words to express what they really feel. And perhaps I simply cannot hear what they have to say.

But for whatever reason, I find myself feeling more and more alone the more I go to social events. I suppose that this makes sense for a hermit, and it is probably what men like me have felt for millenia. But the sadness is still real and doesn't dissipate unless I am able to get away for a while.