Once a month, we travel to the family farm to assist the in-laws in taking care of the land. It is always a nice comfortable trip but it is located a good deal away from the large urban area we are used to. Along with way, there are farms and ranches of all different sizes, places where the distance between neighbors is sometimes labeled in miles. This is different from the close up and in your face urban area we live in every day. Out at the farm, there is no local Starbucks, or a Costco and the closest name brand, fast food joint is located on the freeway about half an hour away in one direction. It is a totally different way of living.
Nothing Wrong with Either One
While some people are more tailored for city living and others for country living, there is a distinct contrast in the type of mentality between those who live in the city and those who live in the country. I say this because as we drive, I often consider how the rural looks at the urban and vice versa. What I have come to the conclusion about, it that both the rural and urban come by their opinions honestly. Especially when it comes to politics and the issues we face as a country.
Rural Racism Example
Most of us in the urban centers understand that racism is alive and well and we tend to paint the rural dwellers as a big part of that. However when standing in the line at the Feed store, a black farmer is treated with the same respect as a white farmer. At the smaller rural schools, black kids are treated the same as white kids and they play football together, engage in other activities together etc. Now, I am not implying that racism doesn’t exist in the rural area it certainly does but from a visual standpoint it doesn’t appear as if it does. Those living in the rural areas, who see the news about places like Ferguson and see the protests, they don’t see anything that resembles their lives so it is hard for them to understand what is happening. They see a group of people bent out of shape over a criminal. For them it is cut and dry. Micheal Brown attacked an officer and he got shot, case closed. They have a hard time understanding the nuances of the case because those types of nuances do not exist in their world. It is not that they don’t care or are willfully ignorant, it is literally that situations such as the Micheal Brown case do not apply to their situation. Most farmers only have to deal with the odd County Sheriff or perhaps a local town cop and the problems in the local towns do not resemble the problems in the larger cities.
Over Militarized Cops
The above also goes towards a lack of understanding concerning police brutality. In the rural area, there is typically no over militarized police force that rolls armored vehicles down the street. Most people in the rural areas will never see a SWAT team in action other than on TV. That is not to say that police shootings do not occur in rural areas. They most certainly do. but mostly at traffic stops and usually without witnesses. To many rural folks, all this police action looks like a city problem and doesn’t effect them. That does not keep them from having an opinion, far from it. Usually, they see all the news about the cops and think that police have run amok in the cities and are making cities into police zones. To make matters worse, they are not always wrong. Still, they don’t quite understand the nuances of how police have to operate in the urban areas nor do they see how heavy handed it gets for minor infractions.
By contrast, those of us in the urban areas don’t understand that rural folks don’t see what we see and that doesn’t make the rural ignorant but more along the lines of the same situation does not apply. Many rural areas do not have a need for a SWAT team or an armored car. They don’t need X numbers of cops per X number of people. They do not have the community versus police problems that urban dwellers face.
I have heard more and more people who live in the rural areas complain about the economy than I have heard in the urban areas. In the urban areas, just because one store raises its prices on an item, does not mean all stores will. If Target has X product for one price, there is a good bet another store might have it for slightly less. Or that if there is an across the board increase, we can compensate by finding sales on other products that will save us money. In rural areas where there might be only one or two stores, when prices go up they go up. There is no other option to go to another store or if there is it is in the next county. That means they have to spend more on gas to save money which means they don’t save any money. For them, economic changes are fast and in their face.
The examples given are just than examples, and there are variations and exceptions everywhere. What should be considered as important is that rural folks and urban folks need to realize that life is different from the other and that just because we reside in the same state and same country does not mean that what effects one will automatically effect another. That it is a matter of perspective mixed with a dose of reality that separates the rural and urban people. Neither one is better or worse than the other. Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages to each way of life but that does not imply that one is more ignorant or outdated. It only means that it is different. That people who live in rural zones do not experience life the same way those of us in the urban area do but that the urban don’t experience the rural way of life either. That we do not need to judge and consider one better than the other, just different. We have to learn that this difference is one that can be bridged as long as we recognize that each is different and accept that what affects one might not affect the other. That when rural folks scream about taxes, they do not typically see the positive effects their tax dollars bring. They do not have the advantage of a 5 minute fire response or fast ambulance or police response. They don’t see the amount of roads that have to be taken care of or the amount of street lights needed to protect the public etc. They do not have those requirements. They see money being taken from them and do not see the benefit. So naturally, they are going to be unhappy about taxes.
We can talk about bridging the political divide and how our country is divided all day long but until we realize where the other side is coming from and why they have the opinions they do, then no real healing or unity will take place. As urban dwellers, we have to stop seeing those in the rural areas as backwards, out of date thinkers and see that they don’t have the same problems we do and that we don’t have the same issues they do. Yes, a middle ground is possible but we have to stop putting our interests first and look at the real problems each side face and be willing to look at them realistically. Then maybe we can meet in the middle and start bringing some unity back to the country.