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Editor's Note: The Whole Truth


  • Ion Zupcu

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 percent of job losses in the United States since November of last year have been suffered by men. This aspect of the current recession has received little notice, writes Reihan Salam in “The Great He-Cession”, but it augurs a tectonic shift in gender relations. The declining economic prospects of men across the globe, argues Salam, combined with the increasing enfranchisement of women in social, economic, and political realms, will result in nothing less than a revolution over the course of this century. The tension between alienated men—on the downswing as traditional high-paying blue-collar jobs decrease and white-collar managerial work disappears—and empowered women—is it any wonder why Hillary Clinton is so violently disliked by male-dominated conservatism?—will not result in open warfare. But Salam believes the battle for power, as patriarchal structures weaken, will be the defining conflict of the 21st century.

Which seems to be a stretch, doesn’t it? What about the coming Water Wars we’ve heard so much about? Or the conflicts that will be brought on by forced migration in the face of environmental cataclysm? Or the further Balkanization of former nation-states into smaller, warring neo-tribal enclaves? Or the Clash of Civilizations, for goodness sake?

Salam’s argument, however, is exaggerated for effect; it’s not the whole truth. (Making bold pronouncements which may not extend with perfect clarity from their original argument is something males are known for.) But there are many kernels of insight to be mined here. There is no denying the world is being remade as we switch from risk-seeking, get-rich-quick, aggressively macho financial strategies (bundled derivatives, anyone?) into a more communal, supportive economic stance (government bailouts). Don’t expect to see Hillary Clinton, with a frying pan in her hand, calling for a general strike, but don’t be surprised if she’s elected president in 2016 either.

The whole truth is tough to come by. We are usually left to seek it out in small doses that point toward the inscrutable revelation that is never revealed.

Eric Francis Coppolino, in “Inner Goddess, Inner Gaze”, approaches the gender divide from the angle of internal archetypes, and understanding the truth about ourselves. In his column this month, he makes the point that we contain masculine and feminine aspects within us, and how we project the tension between them outward is the result of our internal ordering. Which suggests a different kind of truth about the gender battle—that it rages within (most fiercely within macho males), and that it contains the seeds of its own detente, if we could just make peace with our inner feminine.

Some things are true, and some things are completely true. Like the joy and empowerment of growing our own food. In “The Plot That Couldn’t Fail", Marianne Neifeld explains how a small group of committed, would-be gardeners in Rhinebeck transformed a half-acre of town park into a vibrant community garden in under six months. (Also, as bonus feature to our Locally Grown section, we have a comprehensive guide to pick-your-own farms in the region.) Peter Barrett talks permaculture—think of it as holistic gardening—with local experts Lee Reich and Ethan Roland in “Backyard Bounty”, and finds out, along with other salient gardening advice, that it’s possible to grow kiwis in the Hudson Valley!

Some truths we can no longer deny, like the fact that our fossil-fuel based society is rapidly undermining the viability of life on this planet. We still need to heat our homes, but we need to change our ways. Crispin Kott gets top tips from eco-heating experts for “Staying Warm, Staying Green”.

Some truths aren’t true at all. Playwright and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley makes up stuff for a living. His vivid dialog and the meticulously detailed worlds he envisions for his characters transform fiction into metaphysical truth, from romantic fantasias like Moonstruck, to hard-hitting character studies that tackle eternal questions as in Doubt. Books editor Nina Shengold profiles the award-winning writer in “Shanley and the Deep Blue Sea”.

There are many truths, and many varieties of truth peddled as the genuine article. Each part adds to the whole. But the truth can also be quite tricky. As David Foster Wallace has written: “The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

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