A National Bear Hug

In the small but happy group of scholars I’ve been hanging with here in Spain, one is a self-avowed Communist, another a Vox supporter (the equivalent of our MAGA) and yet another is an extremely centrist moderate. There were three others but I want to concentrate on the colleagues I describe because it was unusually pleasing to observe their interactions.

The colleagues argued, yelled, waved their hands, and expressed themselves with complete openness. As we can well imagine, they did not agree on any of the issues we discussed, including abortion, gender quotas, taxation, trans, gay marriage, Marxism, race, Catalonia, Franco, etc. Everybody was very passionate about their beliefs but nobody was afraid of being denounced for their “harmful” words.

I actually asked the Vox (~ MAGA) voter what would happen if anybody snitched on him to the university administrator. At first, nobody understood the question and then the group burst out laughing. “Oh, my Dean would really enjoy telling that snitching loser to go [a string of inventive obscenities] himself. Or should I say ‘herself’ to protect the inclusivity obsession of our lefty friends?” Then the Communist tore into him, and the debate resumed.

I heard a lot during that discussion but one thing that was completely absent is the contemptuous attitude towards their own country that is so natural in the US. Nobody suggested that “this country is a mess” or “everything is falling apart”, even though things are “falling apart” in Spain a lot more than in the US. Everybody spoke of Spain with the deepest love and admiration.

After 4 hours of screaming at each other and disagreeing about everything, the colleagues joined in a long and happy bear hug. And I really wished we could do the same in America. The oft-expressed idea that leftist and right-wing Americans have absolutely nothing in common and that they “already live in what amounts to different countries” is absolute lunacy. People who say it are either liars or have no understanding of what being in a different country actually means. Americans have an enormous lot in common. And most of it is very good.

All that’s missing is remembering all we share and giving each other a gigantic national bear hug.


11 thoughts on “A National Bear Hug

  1. “… giving each other a gigantic national bear hug …”

    Don’t hug a bear.

    Especially the ones that look like Prehistoric Paddington Bear.

    Prehistoric Paddington Bear not-so-secretly wants to eat you.

    So don’t hug a bear. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You can’t transit Paddington railway station without some reference to Paddington Bear hanging about somewhere.

        The Paddington Bear kiosk that sold nothing but Paddington Bear merch just happened to be next to the one decent grocery in the station and very close to the lifts down to the South African shop.

        And every time, a little voice in the back of my mind …

        “It’s been how long? Why is this still a thing?”

        I’m with Klara. πŸ™‚


        1. I’m not familiar with it myself but I heard the name and tried it with Klara. It never went beyond the first couple of pages.

          She loves Winnie the Pooh, though. And Lewis Carroll. I tried CS Lewis but it was too early for that, apparently. Roald Dahl is, of course, a massive favorite with both her and N. They play out scenes from the Witches and Matilda all the time.


          1. “not familiar with it myself”

            I don’t know the book at all but apart from craft/quality issues the movie was an immigration narrative (nothing wrong with that) but also heavy on the joys of fluidity (literally in some cases) no real struggle to adapt for PB it was an infinitely malleable London that made room for him…

            Liked by 1 person

  2. “After 4 hours of screaming at each other and disagreeing about everything”
    Isn’t that the whole point of having an intellectual discussion?
    The problem nowadays, and not only in America, is that too many people are no longer used to having intellectual debates and basically think in talk-show terms. Debate necessarily leads to a certain amount of intellectual discomfort, it is intended to do so, in order for people engaging in the discussion to examine their positions, assess counter-claims and re-evaluate their ideas: a healthy exercise for all involved.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m also very bored by the fear of hurting somebody’s feelings that dominates life in America. It’s a good impulse but it’s taken way too far. There’s something truly wrong with feelings that are so easily wounded.


    1. And it’s a really great intellectual workout because you have to think fast, word your arguments in a way that makes sense, let new information in, etc. My brain feels on fire, energized and ready to roar after a few days of intense, honest discussions. Exercise is precisely the word for it.

      It’s gotten to the point that academics in North America get together to recite strings of slogans at each other. The list of slogans is pre-approved, so we always know what everybody else will say. It’s murder for the brain cells. I can practically feel my brain shriveling in the process.


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