But those people who are fishes out of water were often the most vibrant ones in the room. I’ve begun to recognize a social type, the Amphibians — people who can thrive in radically different environments.
.. But if you grew up in war-torn Syria and wound up at a community college in Ohio, you’re almost bound to be magnetic and original. If you grew up in a Baptist home in Alabama and now are first-generation college at an Ivy League school, your life is propelled by an electric, crosscutting cultural dynamic... They were considered liberals in their Midwestern high school but are considered conservatives in college. They come from a mostly black town and work at a mostly white company.. They are within the circle of the group, but at the edge, where they can most easily communicate with those on the outside... Bridging Capital. Robert Putnam speaks of bonding and bridging capital. One binds people within communities and the other binds different communities together. We need more of both kinds of social capital, but we need bridging capital more... Amphibians spend their lives creating centering syntheses. They understand from experience that the only way you can bring different groups together is by uniting them at a higher level...The Amphibians’ lives teach us that backgrounds are more complicated than simple class- or race-conflict stories. Their lives demonstrate that society is not a battlefield but a jungle with unexpected connections and migrations. Their lives teach that what matters is what you do with your background, the viewpoints you construct by combining viewpoints. Their lives are examples of the power of love to slice through tribal identity.