American tapestry

6:10 am, Monday, Boston, MA: My taxi driver is a retired guy from the South Shore. His son is a Ranger, active duty. The son curls up on the floor now when fireworks go off: PTSD. He is friends with all the generals, ever since he use a banned weapon in Afghanistan to save some guys despite the orders of an interfering German NATO officer. According to him, the US generals believe we have to stop fighting all these little wars, because then the media turns every bit of collateral damage into a war crime. We need one big war to just end it.

3:30 pm, Monday, Ferguson, MO: I am getting a detailed and extraordinarily well-informed and thoughtful driving tour through this city, traversing all the main roads plus several of the back streets and cul-de-sacs. My guide, an African American woman and longtime resident of Ferguson, is also a scholar with a PhD, an educator, and an activist. Through her windshield, Ferguson looks remarkably ordinary: Anywhere, USA. Sam’s Club, Walmart, mowed median strips, the Interstate, tidy homes of brick or wood, low-rise apartment complexes, some fancy older houses along one side of town, and knots of happy kids walking home from their schools. It is Anywhere, USA–which is the problem.

7:30 pm, Monday, Kansas City, MO: Sitting at the bar of a BBQ restaurant that caters to tourists, with baseball on the TV screens and the news on my smartphone that the President of the United States has casually divulged secret information to the Russian ambassador.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.