By Blaney Pridgen
By Sigrid Fowler
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Betsy and I have just returned from a long car trip out west. Along the way we enjoyed visits with kinfolk and old friends, camped some, and saw a lot. The car collected bugs from over fifteen states. We collected stones from Pacific beaches. Best of all, we collected new, better memories to replace some old miserable ones.
Also, along the way, I collected general reflections possibly fit for commentary beyond the boring slide show. The states are different like small independent countries, except for California, Texas and New York, which I think they are major nations worthy of deference from all of the rest. Florida is a pledge to that fraternity. I wonder how geography subtly determines a state’s politics and attitudes, kind of like genetics determines each of us, perhaps more than we usually suspect. I believe there is still something of a frontier spirit in the western states just like an ornery spirit smothered in the gravy of politeness in the south. There is something about our federation of states and the undemocratic institution of the Senate which allows smaller interests and confederations to sabotage the hopes and desires of the majority.
I figure each state has its good points and bad, both in geography and otherwise. This is true every where one looks, except at the state’s welcome stations where we are told that we have just entered the vision of a heavenly Jerusalem. For me, I experienced a little something in each state we visited which told me I could live there. For example, there is almost no highway or interstate litter in the west except for Texas and Oregon. Why is that? I leave the suppositions to you. As to the litter in the other two, I figure a bunch of Southerners must have migrated there some time ago. I like visiting the states. I am reminded that being a citizen of this land is more important than being a citizen of any state or region. Way more important, and people who love their nation, state, and region don’t litter. Those who do are un-American and need to find another country where they might better fit in.
And, also along the way, I noticed those in the service industry more than I used to. Wait staff, motel workers, convenience store clerks, and road crews are a necessary part of our society. Every place we went we saw signs for “hiring now.” Something closer to living wages might make those signs go away and children better fed. Who knows? One thing I do know, any place that does not value justice, free elections, care for those who can’t, great education, and good roads is a place where only a bumpkin would believe the welcome station.