The American People: Nice or Not?

American People, American FlagEvery day on TV and social media I see examples of American people behaving badly. You have, too, regardless of which side of the Great Divide you call home. It’s enough to make us think that all Americans are tribal, as defined by the media, at loggerheads politically, and ready to assault one another at any time.

Sigh.

And then I slip into my role as Tour Guide for either Boston By Foot or, more recently, Haunted Boston and I meet Americans from all over the country face to face. I want to tell you, the people I have met are nice people.

Meeting American People on Tour

In the last week alone, I have met couples, parents and children, and individuals from Indiana, Connecticut, North Carolina, California, Kentucky, Iowa, New York, Michigan, and Virginia that I can remember. Everyone was polite and friendly. We all got along just fine.

Now, one doesn’t discuss politics on a tour devoted to history, architecture, or spectral apparitions. And the guests are people who choose to come to Boston whether on vacation, to visit a college, or for business. But, still.

Central Burying Ground, Boston Common, Haunted Boston, ghosts, gravestones, walking tour, tour guideNo one screamed at anyone else. No group from one state attacked a group from another state. No one wore a MAGA hat or a Blue Wave button. And no one, thank goodness, yelled “Lock her up!” at me.

Instead, we walked through the cool pre-Halloween darkness on the Boston Common where I told stories about murder, mayhem, hauntings, hangings, witches and wandering spirits. Guests asked questions, looked curiously around the Common, followed me uphill and down and took pictures. They had a good time and so did I.

How the American People Used to Be

It makes me remember how we used to be as a country. Going back not so many years, we had fewer divisions and less hostility. We shared a common bond as Americans and did not identify as coming from red or blue states. We did not wear party affiliations on our sleeves. Our politics remained as private as our votes and we were happy to leave it that way.

Of course, it was also a time when a politician of any party who lied, stole, committed adultery, cheated on his taxes, applauded Nazis and/or took a bribe (pick one) would retire or be voted out of office and possibly prosecuted. We had standards.

What Evil Lurks

The Shadow Knows, Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of menI’m aware that some of my tour guests might have gone home and participated in activities that exacerbate the Great Divide. Prominent and well-respected men once left their offices, banks and courthouses to don white robes and commit mayhem of their own. As the Shadow used to say, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

I’m happy to spend some time with fellow Americans who want to learn more about the American Revolution as well as the City of Boston and its residents, both deceased and persistently present. It gives me hope that we can learn to come together again someday. It encourages me to believe that today’s devolution of civility, public behavior, and democracy isn’t permanent.

Upcoming Tours

If you want to come along with me on any of my tours, here’s the schedule for the next few weeks. At the end of November we tour guides go into hibernation for the winter. After all, no one wants to slog through the snow.

  • Haunted Boston: October 24 at 7:30 pm
  • Haunted Boston: October 30 at 7:30 pm
  • Boston By Foot, The Dark Side of Boston: November 2 at 6:00 pm
  • Haunted Boston: November 17 at 7:30 pm

Join us one night. You, too, can meet folks from other parts of the country. You just might feel better about America. You’ll have a good time, too.

Boston Common, Haunted Boston, American People

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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