Apr 29, 2021Liked by Nellie Bowles

Nellie--this is a beautiful and thought provoking post. It is an example of the kind of things I wish we talked about more (here: are we essentially good or very broken?). It feels like some previous era when philosophy was important. I am also glad that you attribute being religious in some way as being part of making this question part of your life.

In my own case I can't help but see us a impossibly wonderful (the mirror included) and capable, as well as everything from blandly conventional to cruel and ignorant. How, when, where and why? I don't know. And I'd like to think there is more good but it seems to depend on surroundings so I don't know this either.

My biggest concern about modern life is whether or not people can find their own kindness, virtue, and peace of mind without religion and some background culture (I think I have said this already--sorry if repeating).

As for cancel culture, I have to part with you here. I do not think this is excessive optimism, it is merely excessive. The problem with a small mistake then is not that it betrays imperfection, but that it violates the rules of the cancel-er. It is the other and their beliefs that then become intolerable and worthy of any punishment. There are many historical examples so it isn't necessary to list the major ones. The beliefs and background philosophy of the cancelers are not a problem. Rather the life they take on as extreme, inviolate, us vs them, and absolute in their importance (especially in a pluralistic society but not necessarily).

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This is one of the most original and thoughtful takes on cancel culture I've read (and there's been no shortage of late). Thank you, Nellie, for your perspective on human failings, forgiveness, and finding that balance.

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Just a general comment on the complexity of politics. As you point out, when Menahem Begin became Israel's Prime Minister in May 1077, it shocked American Jews most of whom were probably not watching Israeli political trends [having nothing to do with settlements, etc] carefully. Still, he signed the first peace treaty with an Arab country--1979 with Egypt. Once upon a time, progressives in the US were supportive of Israel. Think of Pete Seeger and the Weavers recording Tzena Tzena--a song glorifying the 'girls' who went out to the 'boys' fighting in the army. Or Harry Belafonte's recordings of Hebrew lullabies. A great deal changed when Israel defeated the Arab armies in the 1967 War and the confrontation turned into an Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

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