Walt Whitman writes in his quintessential American poem “Song of Myself” about the nature of American contradiction. Unlike contemporary politics where we decry flip-flopping, Whitman recognized that contradiction is part and parcel of a democratic, free-thinking society. Life, quite frankly, is complex. And confusing. Whitman, whose narrative voice alternates between pointing to Whitman the man and Whitman as every man, writes “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” What a perfect motto for America. Like a large family, we are messy, opinionated, and, whether we like it or not, contradictory. We want our schools to teach independence and individuality but we want to do so efficiently and with standardization.
This blog is my attempt to come to terms with our larger cultural contradictions and, quite frankly, my own. I’m a self identified libertarian who wants universal, government-funded education and health care. I don’t like to shop at big box stores unless I’m out of town and in a hurry. I like individualized service and supporting small business owners in my town, but it’s also nice to know that every Academy Sports and Outdoors keeps their baseball equipment on the left side of the store. These complexities fascinate me.
About the author: John Wegner is a Professor of English at Angelo State University where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married for over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven’t ever needed bail money.