Sorry, leaving a small town doesn’t confer sophistication
· · Jul 8, 2022 ·

I was born in Enid, Oklahoma, with a dad who served as a pilot in the United States Air Force. Consequently, base relocations were frequent, and moving to new schools, communities, and cities was just part of my childhood. I lived in the Tulsa area, two different parts of Wichita, KS, San Antonio, TX, and Terre Haute, IN, all before dad left active-duty service and we dropped permanent roots in north central Indiana.

I stayed close to home for college and got a job teaching at my old high school. But my careers outside of the classroom have allowed me to travel extensively, to a multitude of differing, diverse regions of our country and beyond. For instance, in the last few months alone, I have been in Los Angeles, Austin, Burbank, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Dallas, and about 15 smaller communities in between.

The point of me saying all this isn't some weird flex, or to brag about my frequent flyer miles. It is to categorically affirm that this is a load of lazy, condescending trash:

The obvious question that never seems to be addressed in these types of rants against small-town mindsets is why the converse is not equally true. After all, there is undoubtedly a higher percentage of small-town people who have visited and taken in life in the big city than there are urbanites who have gone and hung out in small-town USA.

So where is the expectation placed upon those born and bred with big city values to expose themselves to a more conservative, traditional point of view?

Please notice I'm not dismissing the value of experiencing life in someone else's shoes, or learning to appreciate differing perspectives and cultures. I am dismissing the absurd proposition that it is only "small town" people who could benefit from such exposure.

Moving from Podunk, Iowa to Seattle doesn't make you a more open-minded or tolerant person. In fact, as "Mary" (this online commenter) demonstrates, there is a pervasive intolerance that big cities foster towards rural community values.

The intimation that a person who disagrees with you, say on the topic of sexual permissiveness, only does so because they "haven't educated themselves," is extraordinarily arrogant. It may just be that they disagree with you on the topic, and the virtue of tolerance is recognizing that is OK.

People can believe differently than you without needing to be indoctrinated by the values you have chosen for yourself. There is nothing particularly honorable about abandoning or chucking all the moral principles you were taught as a child simply to embrace the ones you are being taught now as an adult.

If you think the 20-somethings at your downtown club have more about life figured out than the 60-year-old Sunday school teacher you knew back home, that's your prerogative. But don't pretend that somehow makes you more enlightened or mature than those who won't conform to your surroundings like you did.

Having been to a number of places and having met a wide array of people and perspectives, I can testify that no one is immune to the dangers of narrow mindedness. There are extraordinary benefits and privileges of living in a city, and there are extraordinary blessings and opportunities that arise when living in a small town. We all have unique challenges and biases and we need each other to overcome them. That has never been more possible than it is today.

After all, though it apparently did not dawn on tweeting "Mary," or the countless others that you and I know who love to echo her sentiments, the very medium she was utilizing to voice her anti-rural complaint actually undermines her attempted point.

While not everyone has the ability to travel widely and freely, the Internet brings different voices, perspectives, and people to us. We can learn what they value, what they appreciate, and what they embrace – for better.

Or, in the case of this unfortunately close-minded tweeter, for worse.

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