Lessons from a strenuous social psychology experiment, a.k.a. a 50th high school reunion

Lessons from a strenuous social psychology experiment, a.k.a. a 50th high school reunion

Early in April, my luck took an upward surge, and I used to be permitted to function a human topic in a strenuous social psychology experiment.

Or, to place this one other method, I went to my 50th anniversary highschool reunion.

For the younger and/or the reclusive, I’ll define the steps and phases of this current experiment.

  • Recruit some members who as soon as spent days, weeks, months, and years in one another’s firm however who, with uncommon exceptions, haven’t seen one another in half a century;
  • Embody individuals of each attainable ethnicity, social class, non secular id, and political affiliation: African People, Mexican People, American Indians, and whites of assorted traces of descent; working class, center class, elite; Catholics, Mormons, mainline Protestants, evangelicals, agnostics, and atheists; and residents who voted for Hillary Clinton, residents who voted for Donald Trump, and residents who took the place typically uncharitably summarized as “a pox on each their homes.”
  • Assemble this crowd, with a range extending light-years past the technical definition of “a motley crew,” in Banning, Calif., a small city situated within the San Gorgonio Go between Riverside and Palm Springs.
  • Acknowledge that the blending of nationwide polarization with remembered accidents and affronts might provoke collisions galore, however present nothing in the best way facilitation or battle decision.
  • After which brace your self for the result: the exhilaration of watching People in 2018 conduct themselves with grace, tolerance, congeniality, affection, resilience, and merriment.

Right here’s my not totally convincing speculation: all through our rattled nation, the 68-year-old members of the Class of 1968 (that is nearly a numerical pun!) are coming collectively and transcending their variations with good will.

However now for the historian’s critique of that speculation: the Banning Excessive Class of 1968 had some distinctive benefits in its unique context.

For causes that concerned extra in the best way of small-town fiscal constraints than precept, we escaped segregation. From fourth grade on, we have been enrolled in the identical elementary, junior excessive, and highschool. With 150 in our graduating class, we have been all acquainted with one another, and we’re joint house owners of an abundance of reminiscences. Furthermore, with the tumult of the 1960s enjoying out round us, almost all of us had undergone a rigorous coaching program — in devising methods to reside in one another’s firm even once we disagreed — earlier than we turned 18.

And now the roughest half: over one-third of our classmates have died. On the reunion, we watched a show of images of our departed mates, and any temptation to excavate and rehash previous accidents and grievances light away. Conscious of our elemental success in nonetheless being alive, any inclination to dehumanize or demonize one another as political antagonists would have edged up on disrespect for the lifeless.

If you end up wishing you would have shared on this positive time in Banning, you aren’t totally out of luck. On Wednesday, Might 2, at 6:30 p.m., in Eaton Humanities 1B50 on the College of Colorado Boulder campus, the completed Colorado political commentator Eric Sondermann and I’ll maintain a public dialog celebrating options to “The New Regular:  Battle, Polarization, and Incivility.” This program will probably be shorter than the reunion (and there will probably be no dancing), nevertheless it ought to be almost as a lot enjoyable.

Patty Limerick is Colorado’s state historian and school director and chair of the Middle of the American West on the College of Colorado.

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