The View From Here

I love this area.

The Bay Area is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the planet. We seem to have everything here, except maybe snow. If you live here long enough, though, chances are you’ll see just about everything there is to see.

But let’s face it. We live in a bubble. It’s a big bubble, yes, but it’s a bubble nonetheless.

We like to think that the rest of the world is less diverse, more intolerant, less cultured, more close-minded, and, in general, not as cool as we Bay Areans are.

If you have a problem with the word “Areans” that I just made up, then I may have made my point already.

Why is it that we Bay residents seem to live in a perpetual state of fear about inadvertently offending or being offended? Are we afraid of starting a fight? Do we really think war is going to break out at the drop of a hat, or maybe a glove? Why don’t we have the sight to see that sometimes, gloves have a way of accidentally slipping to the floor.

Yes, it is true that people are often offensive. That is a bad thing. It is true that offensive things, sometimes spoken insults or sometimes shots fired from a handgun, have a way of starting wars. That is a bad thing. It is true that people are everywhere. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a fact of life.

In fact, I would go out on a limb and propose that the more “offensive” people you live with, the more well-rounded and knowledgeable you may become.

I’m not advocating that ages-old adage of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” presumably so they are easier to destroy. Maybe it means something completely different.

What if we were to keep our friends close and our enemies closer so that we could get a glimpse of life from their point of view and see that they actually aren’t as intolerant, close-minded, anti-diversity and anti-culture as we thought they were?

In a way, we have the privilege of doing that every day here in our diverse Bay Area bubble. Thanks to the amazing plurality of different people here, we have daily opportunities to learn how to co-exist with others. In fact, we seem to have a tendency to get so caught up with living with the others in our diversity bubble that we have forgotten how to live with those who are not blessed with such diversity.

Perhaps intolerance for those outside of our bubble has become the new racism. With that in mind, I would like to coin a new term: “bubblism.”

Some common symptoms of bubblism? How about shock and disbelief that “at least half of the voting populace are idiots”? How about rage over the “fact” that if you don’t live along the coast our in an urban area, you are evil and trying to take away the rights of those of us who are educated and enlightened?

Here’s a proven cure: start driving. For one thing, gas prices outside of the bubble are a little friendlier. You may even find that the vast majority of people across this country, and even this planet, are also friendlier than you thought.

Then, once you find a place that is filled with idiots and evil people, try your hand at living there. If you can stand it, you might just find yourself more enlightened than you thought you could be.

In the immortalized words of that crazy song about sunscreen, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.”

There’s a lot of Earth in between. Expand your bubble.