Small mindedness

Have you ever lived in a small town?  I’ve only lived in one for about 7 years now.  It’s a trip.  Like most things, it has its good points and its bad points.  For now, the good things outweigh the bad, so here we are.

For reference, when I talk about a small town, I’m talking about a town similar to the one I live in…our population is about 1600, city limits encompass 1 square mile, and the next closest towns are 5-10 miles away.  The next BIG town, with significant civilization, is about 30 miles away.

We aren’t a suburb, we don’t melt into another town.  We are surrounded by rolling acres of cropland — my husband grew up on a farm 6 miles south of town.  He left for school, and we lived in several other places in Iowa before we came back, so we could raise our family here, and eventually he’d like to work on the farm, though I don’t know if that will ever happen quite the way he’s already dreamed it would.

Many of the people that live here have lived here all of their lives, possibly in the same house they grew up in.  And the familial relationships are confusing at best — you have to be careful who you badmouth to whom, because you might be dissing a sister or cousin or whatever without even realizing it.

I don’t mean to imply that if you’ve never lived anywhere else, you can’t have an open mind and I know that small mindedness can exist anywhere, but there seems to be something special about small town small mindedness.  I’m also aware that I am just as guilty as the next person at exhibiting small mindedness on occasion, but I hope, for the most part, that I’m able to approach issues with an open mind, and I try very hard to make decisions based on facts, and not on my feelings about a person.

Our small town is voting on a local utility issue next Tuesday.  It’s actually a decision we thought we’d already made, but some of the more vocal opposition didn’t like the fact that the majority vote went against them, so they have managed to stir the pot and force this vote.  I’m still not clear on how that’s even possible, but here we are.

What frustrates me is that many people seem to be making their decisions based on their dislike of certain personalities, and based on things that happened 30 years ago, rather than on what might be best for our town.  I understand some of the objections to the issue at hand, I understand that it is risky, but you know what?  Getting out of bed is risky.  And it seems to me that making fear-based decisions are not what our town or even our country needs right now.  And I say that understanding our scary the economy is right now.  I’m a little bit afraid everyday — but if I let myself make decisions based on fear, I probably wouldn’t choose to get out of bed  most days.

I also think the argument that the system isn’t “broken” so we don’t need to fix it is flawed.  Just because we’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean we SHOULD keep doing it that way. Tradition is important, but it shouldn’t be our only guide.

I don’t know how the vote is going to turn out next Tuesday.  I know how I’m voting, and I know that my choice is based on hope for the future: not fear and not past personal resentments.  I hope I can say the same about other decision about my life, and I hope you can, too.

Fiber content later.

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One comment

  1. Lynn Douglass says:

    I grew up in a town of 800, so I know exactly what you’re talking about! I do remember the heated city council meetings that everyone would hear about! Oh, the drama! I do, however, sometimes wish I still lived in a small town.

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