I picked up another hefty delivery of meat yesterday from one of the farmers I buy from.

At various times during the year I order an entire lamb, a whole hog, or a side of beef. Today it was dozens of chickens and a few extra bundles of bacon and such. It all goes in to the freezers.

The highest quality cuts become wonderful roasts or barbecue while the lesser portions are turned in to soups, stews, and stock that I pressure can in big batches. I really enjoy giving my money directly to the families that raise my food. And the quality is excellent.

As I chatted with the other customers and Farmer Craig it occurred to me that if we all lined up we would be a cartoon of the American cultural and political spectrum. Craig is a deeply religious man who lives in one of California’s rural Republican conservative strongholds. He and his wife have a special calling that compels them to take in troubled youth and provide them with a nurturing home, spiritual instruction, and practical life skills on the farm. He’s patient, earnest, and impossibly kind.

At the other end of the spectrum are the old school San Francisco lefties with “Tax the Rich” and “Keep Our Muslim Neighbors Safe” buttons who are also kind, generous, and loving — although from an entirely different perspective. In between, middle-of-the-road soccer moms and at least one aging gay guy of no particular political or spiritual persuasion (cough) round out the image. Given the current political atmosphere we should all be at each other with knives. Instead, it’s all big hugs with lots of mutual respect and genuine affection.

As a nation we have multiple, profound, long-festering, overlapping predicaments that we need to come to grips with. None of the options are particularly savory. We need to roll up our sleeves and get serious. As face-to-face individuals, we don’t actually have a problem with each other. But all sides of our most critical institutions are obsessed with the minutiae of their own palace intrigue. There’s a palpable reciprocal commitment by the various factions to destroy the opposition by dividing the country — at all costs. The problem is external reality is going to intervene sooner or later. This isn’t going to end well if we don’t pull together.

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