Data is pouring out everywhere about how tribal America has become in recent years.
Amazing information is appearing about how easy it is to predict voting ‘habits.’ Our sex, age, education, color and other factors reveal how we think about ourselves, our lives and other people’s lives.
It occurs to me that there just might be some quite simple and inexpensive ways to restore at least some of the American genius for integrating our varied populations again into larger groupings of people who cherish and value the strength and power of our differences.
When most of us are born, we enter a world of siblings and cousins, who, depending on where they live, we come to know as family.
Perhaps we could add to our little worlds a few ‘strangers’ who might be called co-cousins, as collaborative cousins (as distinct from second cousins etc.) who would be selected and assigned randomly—but deliberately geographically accessible and ‘different” — to every child born.
The very fact that we would find ourselves with co-cousins as additional relatives might stimulate people with curiosity to try to get to know them.
In the process, there could be quite a lot of mixing and matching at an age when children, in general, have not yet learned to beware of strangers or even notice distinct differences.
Anything that stirs the pots of our lives to enable us to know ‘strangers’ better would most likely strengthen our bonds as a nation. A national “pen pal” program connecting youth to their co-cousins in other parts of our nation at a young age, for example, might serve a similar purpose.
Our differences are one of our greatest strengths!