Mary Strachan Scriver

Dec 4, 2021

3 min read


I have the hardest time struggling with middle class philosophy — not so much outside me as hijacking my inner life.

In high school: You must be superior, get good grades, high test scores. I did those things. I was saved by dramatics.

In college: Prepare for making money. I was totally preoccupied by the Method and other stage magic. NOT a way to make money.

First job: Hard to think of anything more dramatic than teaching on a reservation, unless you got into Western Art and were bewitched by Bob Scriver.

Animal Control: No more sniveling. There is need and we need to think about how to address it fairly. Then there was the Unitarians, the Enlightenment version based on logic and reason. I thought that was the answer.

Seminary: I cared so much I was out of step with everyone. They considered me a gullible enthusiast. Saved by Richard Stern, who also cared.

Circuit-riding: The UUs in Boston wanted growth. The little fellowships wanted me to do all the work. I wanted to drive off into the sky.

Saskatoon: A mistake that became an investment.

City of Portland: Closing a circle and finding it empty.

Valier: Twenty years of solitude and writing. This was the point of the whole sequence — defiance of the command to be nice, make money, don’t rock the boat, make money, writing is not doing anything unless it sells and makes you popular, make money.

In twenty years the world has gone from being functional with big faults to being totally corrupt and run by fools. How it got to being a version of mafia so quickly is what we’re unraveling now.

1. Mis-managing capitalism. It CAN be organized to prevent some people becoming enormously wealthy almost by accident. It IS possible to provide a guaranteed basic income for everyone. The internet CAN be used to detect money-laundering as well as doing it.

2. We’re between systems of conventional morality and in the confusion, many just drift until they hit trouble, and then they over-react into rigid systems or go wild.

3. Our reflections of ourselves in media — either stories or news — are binary, inviting high emotion conflict, setting expectations that are cynical and blaming, and making heroes of the little defiant guys instead of the groups that work together. The reporters are too young to understand the world and their editors only want predictable material that will draw eyes.

4. The schools have been tossing overboard the very history, principles of citizenship, and economic theory that would have helped us figure it out now if people knew it.

5. In the interest of selling tourism, things have been so misrepresented — that every place is full of thirty-something good-looking people eager to embrace you and no bad things ever happen — like bears and geysers. People are outraged as if they were toddlers and demand that everything be made safe.

A lot more is relevant, but this is all i can bear at the moment. I have sciatica, it snowed an inch this morning, and the youngest batch of kittens is tearing the house apart for the fun of it.