How We Get Along

It is one thing to live within a system you cannot admire, and another to do something about it. Those who vowed to move to Canada after the re-election of George W. Bush know this, as do those who vow civil war if Trump is impeached.

Not feeling good about your subjective experience among the bigger forces of job, community, nation, world, is like wearing a deep-sea diving dress that pinches or is cold at depth. What are you going to do, shed the suit? It is your life-support. Other accommodations have to be made.

I belong to a Facebook group for mostly ex-military divers from the US, UK, and Europe. Their page describes the group as a brotherhood of those “who have gotten their hair wet for a living.” Most of them would not agree with my politics, education, current job, relative pacifism, and many of my interests. But they are interesting men (the two women seem to have left the group, though probably not for the reasons you think); they know how to do things; collectively have seen most of the world; and have strong opinions and a sense of humor, mostly. I like to think we could share a bottle, which is one type of hope.

One guy, who is probably younger than me, looks rough but seems to care for others. We do not know each other in any way. Going by his personal page, he works hard and loves dog videos, dirty jokes, and memes about the Clintons killing people. He collects knives and guns with a passion. He would make a great uncle to somebody’s kids—probably not mine, but somebody’s.

His one apparent unhappiness in life stems from living in California. It is not the landscape, but the fact that the people there condense the worst of America for him. Those people are not patriotic, hardworking, godly, or commonsensical. They support big government, a welfare state, and the quashing of business.

When faced with the California fires that may yet burn down his home, my Facebook friend must make accommodations. He cannot believe in climate change as a contributing cause, or unchecked development, or corporate fault. Something else must ease his unease.

“Those fires are starting to look like terror attacks of some sort,” he announced to the group.

“I have thought the same thing for the last few years,” another man replied. “It’s a very effective tool.”

“I believe that 100% I think it’s being done within though,” said a third, and more chimed in.

“I don’t know. 90% of California are the best friend an enemy of America could have!”

“Terrorist [sic] are not that smart, yet.”

“More like the big guy up there purification of the land!”

My friend must look past most of the information on my own page in order to continue to include me in things, or maybe he has made accommodations there too. Unbidden, because I am a brother, he messages me pornography and affirmations of Jesus’s love.

John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, The Age of Clear Profit: Essays on Home and the Narrow Road (UGA Press 2022). His previous collection was Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life. He has also published a novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, and a narrative nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City. He was the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press. His work has been included and listed as notable in Best American anthologies.

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