Not too long ago, when still in Poland, I looked upon Americans as being wedded to the idea of rugged individualism. You did it on your own. You rose, you fell, you conquered, you succumbed, but importantly, you asked for help from no one.
I never bought into the idea fully. Bootstraps – great myth. But in my young mind, most (not everyone; most) were strapped to the success of another (a relative? a partner?), not to their own boots at all.
Of course, one could accuse my own (Polish) country men and women as being too stuck on anti-individualism. So much so that, given recent democracy, you could hardly get a Pole to the polls at election time. Why should I vote? An individual vote hardly matters. Campaigns were levied against that mindset in the last election. Your vote counts! Move your individual ass to the polls, already. Collective action? Oh, give it a rest.
Could we compromise and put in a vote for, maybe, partnerships?
A comment showed up on my post on the Badger State Trail. (I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the Trail: it’s a microcosm of the world out there! Life! Replayed on the BST!) It goes like this (pardon me for not editing out the niceties. I am not above niceties):
Very nice photo essay. You've really captured the beauty of the trail. It's a shame that the Badger Trail will probably be converted into an ATV freeway in the near future, seeing as how the Friends of the Badger Trail is staffed almost exclusively by members of the Wisconsin ATV Association. You CAN do something about this by attending the November 27 annual meeting of the Friends of the Badger Trail, 7:00 PM at Belleville High School, join FOBT and VOTE in the elections that evening. I can assure you that the ATV lobby will be there to vote.
The collective action mindset in me stirred. By God, let’s all show up there and give them a run for their vote, those ATV-ers! I was on that trail. I saw the damage mechanical devices did to the bridges over creeks and rivers! And, perhaps more importantly, I reveled in the quiet of the trail. The only reason you do not see photos of birds here, of the deer that crossed my path, of the frogs that croaked their way across is because they, the creatures of the wild, were faster than me.
[A conversation with Ed:
Can you ride behind me so that you do not spook the animals that I may want to photograph?
I think by the time you reach for your camera, turn it on, focus, curse it for not responding, focus and press and finally fire, the animals will have retired onto another planet…]
Join me and we'll be FOBT members for life! Partners! And come to Belleville on November 27th (don't bike down -- too cold)! I’ll treat to you to a pancake and a cup of tea at Bleoni’s, okay?
[I would post a photo from the trail, but that would be cheating as all my photos are from the day of the post. So here's, partnership today. From my dining table, one not more beautiful than the other and both made more beautiful as a result of… you guessed it, partnership:]