Friday, March 27, 2015

This "conservative" loves his hometown(s) ... and wishes others loved their's

It will not be an exaggeration by any means when I assert that I am emotionally invested in, tied to, very, very specific places.
My grandmas' villages.
The town where I grew up.
The city where I earned my doctorate, and then the city where I worked and lived.
And, for thirteen years now, this wonderful place by the Willamette in a gloriously green state.

Growing up in Neyveli, there was a distinct sense of home being there, while grandmas' villages were the "native places"--the places from where our people were from.  In contrast, the city where I went to for my undergraduate degree was not "home."  I always knew it was only a transit stop.

I write and talk with fondness for very few places in the old country and those places were home to me.  In my adopted land, I love Los Angeles even when I know I don't ever want to go there again to live--the fondness from it being my first home away from home.

All these are more than mere fondness for the place though.  It is good to have such a geographic rootedness, I would argue.  A belonging to a place.  A place that is home.   Maybe this wannabe philosopher thinks like this because, as a quote that I recently came across said, “philosophy is really nostalgia, the desire to be at home.”

It is not without reason we have idioms that even refer to the geography.  Like, "down to earth" or "well grounded" or "both feet on the ground."

I love staying put, knowing that I belong to a place.
Staying put—fully inhabiting, loving, and stewarding the place in which you live—is a conservative idea in many respects. It’s interwoven with the idea of civic care and involvement, the importance of commitment to the political, economic, and cultural wellbeing of a community.
It is that sense of commitment to the community that drives me to write op-eds.  Not op-eds for newspapers in the Timbuktus of the world, but for papers in the community where my life is.  Thus, after moving out of California, I never cared to send an op-ed there, as much as back then I did not submit an op-ed to the three Oregon papers where I have been published, more regularly in one compared to the other two.  In fact, in one op-ed, I noted that writing is my civic responsibility.  Such a civic sense would not be there if I didn't have any geographic rootedness in the first place.

However, we live in a world where people move from rural to urban areas, from city to city, from state to state, and even from country to country.  I have always wondered if that meant that some of these moves are always in transition.  I am sure this guy knows plenty about these feelings from his own experience.  In those transitions, is there ever a commitment to a place and its wellbeing?  Or will it be a mere shrug about a senior center that might need help, or a school that might be shutting down, or the whatever it is ...?

These days, with the (un)employment crisis here in America,
Many people have realized that mobility takes a long-term toll on their family and community life. Not only that, moving to a place for recreational or consumeristic purposes is a sapping and exorbitant lifestyle choice, in a time when employment opportunities are still tenuous, especially for younger Americans. Staying “close to home” is more attractive when you know that there will be a safety net, a support group, and a community in that place—to help you even through times of financial difficulty.
A mighty toll.  Understandable--there is no free lunch in life, and there are costs associated with this mobility.

May you always be at home wherever you are!


Ramesh said...

Completely relate to your post. There is a sense of belonging in every place I have stayed in - so much so that I even went to Haldia this time, even though it was a tough tough place to live in all those years ago.

My commitment to places I have lived in before is more to the people I know rather than the place itself. here is a warmth about the place, of course, but even more to the people whom I lived with.

The sense of belonging is also the reason,, why I choose to live and remain in India.

Lovely post. I wonder, if for you, the attachment somewhat cools down with time. Doesn't for me. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. And since you have said philosophy is all nostalgia ......

Sriram Khé said...

That's an interesting question to think about: does that attachment dilute over time?

I am tempted to say, "yes." For instance, Neyveli does not stir up as much emotions as it used to in the past.

Will continue to think about that.

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