I was rooting around in my computer, looking for something, when I stumbled into the junk box and there were pages and pages of emails from a man I knew once, slightly, in school. He has gathered around him a group of our classmates, and these men communicate by email. Nowadays, the news that appears to be occupying that group of graduates of a school in Tennessee is obituaries. I read a few, none of men that I know, I don’t think. I have a clear memory of only a few people at the school in Tennessee. The tone of the emails back and forth was very complacent. Everybody was happy with the way the dead man had lived his life, and they wrote about how complacent (that is, happy) they felt about everything. All these emails had automatically gone into my junk box.

Today was my day for cleaning our apartment, and while I was picking up and straightening things, and then vacuuming rooms, I was thinking, “I don’t know of a group of men that I am involved in that is so complacent.” How had they lived their lives where they were so self-satisfied? The country has been through turmoil during the last fifty years, and they are complacent! But the more I considered the issue, the clearer it became. Of course they were complacent. All of these men went to a school that was constructed for them. They were not asked to think, or to analyze anything, or to come up with something new. I expect all their schools were like that. Self-congratulatory. The problem is way bigger than the school in Tennessee. Our whole culture, back there in the fifties and to a large extent today, was built around smart, well-brought up, white, straight, middle-class professional men, and that’s what they all are, and they don’t know that their whole culture has been built, like a water slide, for them to ride on. They lived their lives, plugging away, and now they can look around themselves and think, “I did a good job.” That’s what their lives have been like, like riding down a water slide! Wheeeee! Nothing disturbed them at the school in Tennessee, or anywhere else, and so here they are, all of them age seventy-four or seventy-five, undisturbed as they start dying off, one by one. They can send back and forth their self-congratulatory messages. “Gee! This has been such fun!” Of course it was fun. It was MADE to be fun. That’s what water slides are for! This school was a theme park designed for straight white men to play in and nothing serious was asked of them. How many times do I have to learn this?
You can’t expect anything serious from such a place.