Are nomads bad?

Highway in America stretching to mountains in the distance
(Photo by Diego Jimenez)

I’ve been listening a lot to Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Western Stars. I love it. It’s one of his strongest records for a long time, in my opinion. The songwriting is so condensed and focused. 

Some folks are inspired sitting by the fire, slippers tucked under the bed
But when I go to sleep I can’t count sheep for the white lines in my head

Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Wayfarer’

Western Stars is all about the wandering life, not being able to settle. Is that an affliction? It is in a settled society. 

The question ‘are nomads bad?’ can seem a little brutal. Of course not! Most people in settled societies look with benevolence towards those humans still living a nomadic life. 

Nomadism is seen as a fragile trace element from our shared past – a survival from an earlier age. When it’s at a comfortable distance – on TV or in interesting books, for instance – it’s cherished. 

Wandering is not a crime

But what about the Gypsies in your town? What about the government in your state when someone tries to live without a permanent address? How sympathetic are we then?

Which got me thinking about all those road movies, all those novels, all those ballads at the heart of the American myth of the hobo wandering man just chuggin’ on up the highway…

Is this our Gypsy ancestry trying to find an outlet in a world that no longer accepts the nomadic instinct? Are all those misfits and loners who don’t quite fit in just the natural, honest truth about the human being?

How many lives might be fixed by not trying to settle? Just being one with the road?

Talking of borderless people, Is It Your Right To Migrate?