Friday, April 11, 2008

Island, Life

It happens every four years.

No, not the presidential election -- I'm talking about the quadrennial whining over politics polluting the Olympic Games.

Ritual foolishness.

What is it about us that insists on purity? Are we deluded or just naive?

Everyone seems to want their own island. Those FLDS folks in Texas built a sprawling, 1,900-acre island, a super-size gated enclave, to escape our beastly society.

Every sports venue has seating reserved for homers, and woe be to visitors who have tickets in enemy territory. Clubs have memberships. Suburban homes have fences. Cities establish crime-free zones, while street gangs defend their criminal turf.

Racial segregation, in the days when it had the state's imprimatur, was the ultimate misguided pursuit of purity. Today, curiously, purity-of-integration is the holiest of grails -- and the oxymoronic "pure diversity" explains why racial tension still exists.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 shattered Americans' illusion of island life -- but only temporarily. We've become complacent once again, losing sight of this fundamental truth:

There are no islands.

Borders will be ignored, oceans crossed and walls breached. Rules will be broken, papers counterfeited and signatures forged. Values, the sole property of a single person, most assuredly will not be shared by others.

And someone wearing the rival's colors will sit in the home stands.

We'll continue to build our islands, of course, convincing ourselves that we've created pure, "just so" places in the world. And that's fine -- as long as we see our islands for what they are.