Twice this quarter I have embarked upon cross country trips by car and train. I seem to have a penchant for accumulating clients who live, at least part of their years, away from congested cities. My own home two hours from a larger airport, I understand the complexity of a public career and a need for privacy. My world at home is in the setting of a modest home at the top of a hill at the foothills of the Appalachians. Our only commerce a gas station and a small family store. Blink and you might miss the whole show. We like it that way.
Folks know folks where I am from. First and last names and probably your Grandad’s too if you’re from these parts, even if you are not most times. Character development is taught in Sunday school and public school and learned the hard way when your reputation is lost. Folks count on your word here, and a far sight depend on it too.
When you leave the hustle and bustle of the screens before you, whether its Wall Street or Facebook, you learn that life isn’t quite the dramatic affair it is portrayed. As we drove we met folks on the road, folks who ran the diners and folks who simply were folks that chose to be kind to strangers. We sat in on a good many conversations as we drove. Sometimes at a center of the community known as the gas station. Folks sitting on the porch, others at a small bench where a meat and three were served as part of the offerings. One can learn a good deal if one is willing to listen.
The nature of Facebook and Social Media is that folks talk to folks they already know. Perspectives often shift to repeating the same old same old. Media is no longer unbiased, and much like the clothesline gossips in my small community, the news is often inaccurate and slanted.
The trips provided witness to many affirming processes. We saw kindness in small things strangers did for one another. We experienced the hospitality of inn keepers and the conversations of strangers at gatherings. Our hearts were filled with the simple beauty of America, even past the pains of her hardest places. We saw individuals doing their best to be of service to others. We saw opportunities to be kind taken time and time again.
This Presidential election has turned into a media and persuasion circus, but I’m betting on the people, and it’s time perhaps we each take back our portion of the community until it reflects our values again. Personally that means gathering our family and families near us for occasional dinners, spending time in our schools, offering to support our local adult education offerings. I believe in the Wesleyan way…do what you can, where you can, for as long as you can.