Day By Day

Friday, June 30, 2006

How VDH Spent Saturday

Victor Davis Hanson spends a day at a lake in the High Sierras and notes one of the great glories of American culture -- the fact that people of widely different circumstances, political affiliations, and backgrounds can share public space peacefully, productively and happily.

I was at a crowded central Sierra Nevada lake last weekend. The recreation scene there was a good example of how well the United States works as a cohesive society despite radically different public tastes.

The California Alpine lake was full of powerboats. Then later in the afternoon it was the site of a sailboat regatta. And that same Saturday the lake also served as a transit stop for a marathon bike race from Fresno to the crest of the Sierras — while at the same time Central Valley motorcyclists made their annual group ride along the same route.

Forget that there were all ethnic groups, races, and religions getting along fine without the need of law enforcement — something impossible in the Middle East, most of Africa , or the Balkans. A brown skin, Mormonism, or speaking Punjabi were of no interest and would hardly determine what people did or whom they were with. There were no fistfights between motorcyclists and bicyclists, no jet-skiers chasing catamarans.

Far more interesting than our singular civility, however, were the apparent distinctions in recreational choices that tell us even more about the stability of America....

Read it here.

Stop for a second and think about the underlying factors that allow all this to work.

1) A Toquevillian freedom of association made possible by our rigidly maintained civil culture of equality. We tolerate vast differences in material circumstances, but insist, almost obsessively, on public displays of respectful adherence to the principle that "all men are created equal."

2) Easy mobility made possible by the automobile and affordable energy which allows such a diverse assemblage of groups to come together in a single place for their varied purposes. Even the pedal pushers had to drive to the embarkation point for their climb.

3) Rampant consumerism, made possible by an abundance of disposable time and money.

4) Open public access to and the commercial exploitation of physically desirable properties.

Note that these are all things that left wing culture critics and reformers denounce and would deny us.

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