City Pride

I’m going to come out and say it. Boston is a terrible city. Many Bostonites take this as an insult. It’s like me going to my neighbor’s house and telling him that it’s ugly. He picked it out, and so presumably doesn’t like to have to derogated. Thus, Bostonites, when they hear me criticize their city, think that I am criticizing them by implication, since their preferences are responsible for the shops in Boston and their votes are responsible for the urban planning and public works.

But the inference that people who pick a terrible city are also terrible is false. In many instances, using an inferior product is a sign of grit or thrift. In other words, I think Bostonites have an admirable amount of willpower and toughness to live in such a city. Often, many people act like the best world is one in which all our preferences are fulfilled with minimal difficulty, but people often forget that it is just as important to have our wishes resisted rather than easily granted. To give just one example, achievement is only possible with difficulty. If becoming a doctor was easy, then it wouldn’t an achievement. Only because the preference to become a doctor is resisted by a variety of factors does its fulfillment have meaning. In the same way, think of a life where everything you wanted was granted to you immediately. Such an existence wouldn’t really be living, because there would be nothing to cope with or require action.

So, I think Bostonites have elected to give themselves a city that systematically frustrates their preferences as a method of introducing discord and challenge into their everyday existence. Notice how Boston pride grows more fervently the more people point out what is wrong with their city. I think this makes sense given that the virtue of Boston is its unforgiving attiude; its challenge.


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