Sunday, June 06, 2004

Watch out for Tractors (Part II)

The Evil Empire
Please allow me to say going in here that my intent is not to to slam anyone — only to report observations. I truly loved growing up and living in SoCal, and harbor no ill will towards anyone or anything there, but I also love living in Tennessee, as I have for the past 12-plus years, and most likely would not have been able to make these observations if I hadn’t left.

One other side note I’d like to make is that if you believe that your opinions about life are set and could never change, I would challenge you to re-think that notion. One of the most humbling things I've experienced about growing older is that as each year passes, I've realized that you never stop growing, never stop learning, and never stop becoming more and more self-aware. It’s refreshing to remember from time to time that we truly are a work in progress. Every day is another opportunity to be a better person than you were the day before, if we allow our eyes to see things with a clear focus rather than a jaded one.

Lofty platitudes now behind us, we return to our regularly scheduled program...

I guess you could accurately say that most people are want to see their particular locale as “the center of the universe,” and Left-Coasters are particularly proud of who they are and where they live. I lived there for 22 years, from middle school to middle age, so I believe I can make the educated observation that they pride themselves on what they consider to be an enlightened outlook on life. They’re proud of the fact that they have no discernable regional accent, and for the most part, look down on those who do. They also pride themselves on *not* suffering from the same malady of racial prejudice that so much of the rest of the country does. Prejudice against prejudice is almost a religion there. Naturally I fell in, lock step with this credo, thankful that I was finally surrounded with people who saw things my way in that vein.

As I got older, the history books I studied in school only reinforced my beliefs. The image they painted of the South as “the Evil Empire” of racial injustice, were perfectly in line with the popular opinion of many SoCal’ers who cast that smug stereotype of Southerners as racially prejudiced, ergo unintelligent bigots.

Now I’m quite aware of the rather harsh picture I’m painting here, and am in no way trying to indicate that ALL Californians are cultural elitists. But the underlying opinion does exist, at least it did when I lived there. The truth is that no matter WHERE you go, you’re gonna find imperfect people, with flawed worldviews that they project upon others without justification. It’s called being a human being, and last time I checked, most of us fall into that category.

So why the long build-up to what I did this weekend? Well let’s just say I found myself on the receiving end of the cultural bigotry stick on Saturday.

Next: What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been
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