lundi, novembre 08, 2004

What Did We Learn (Third Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob'ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that's me…

“Small Town” John Mellencamp (excerpt)

I think about my life. If we’re all one mouse or the other, a country mouse or a city mouse, I’m a city mouse. But I grew up in what I consider a rural setting, Wichita, Kansas. Now I know there are many who think of Wichita as a city, but, for purposes of my conversation today, you don’t count as a “city” until you are a metro area of near a million or more.

What follows is my modest description of (homage to) life in the city…

In the city, I know a Muslim, a Black Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu, Buddhists, Catholics, recovering Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews (I know several Jews – they are too cool), Lutherans (Missouri Synod and ECLA), Unitarians, Unitarian-Universalists, Universalists, Pagans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Greek Orthodox, Baha’i, Agnostics, Native-American Spiritualists, Anti-trinitarians, Ahimsa-based spiritualists, and Atheists. I know people who are COGIC, and I know people who are Charismatic and people who are Evangelical. I know a Seventh Day Adventist, and I know a Jehovah’s Witness. Hey, they’re all doing their own thing. They all think they’re right (and for them they are), and they are all Americans.

I know lesbians and gays. I know bisexuals. I don’t know any transgender people (at least I don’t know that I know any transgender people) but I’ve seen them out and about a lot. I know of a paranoid, transsexual, racist with pamphleteering tendencies in Minneapolis.

I know people who are blind and deaf and not able to ambulate. I know a person with a lazy eye. I know Robert Redford (okay, so he doesn’t know me, but…).

I know white people, black people, Latinos and Hispanics (Latina and Hispana). I know an Iranian and an Iraqi. I know Canadians. I know Indians (both Native Americans and those in Asia). I know Chinese and Japanese and Hmong. I know Brits and Scots and Scandinavians (I even know a gay Scandinavian). I know a Filipino and a Puerto Rican. I know a Saudi Arabian, and I know a German. I know Africans: Kenyans, Somalis and Ethiopians. I know a South African. I know two Eritreans (I even know an Eritrean poet). I had a Bolivian girlfriend. I dated (very briefly) a woman from just North and just West of the Suez Canal in Egypt (she was Mediterranean and African and found me impossibly boring).

I know ova-lacto vegetarians, ova vegetarians, and lacto vegetarians. I know vegans. I know people who eat meat at every meal without exception. I know people who don’t eat red meat but eat chicken and fish or chicken or fish. I know people who fast. I know a guy who did a hunger strike once. I used to work with an out there woman who was fond of liquid diets (no, not that kind of liquid diet!).

I know divorcees, widows and widowers. I know adulterers. I know people who have never married and never will.

I know Communists, Socialists, liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, conservative Democrats, Centrists, Independents, Liberal Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Conservative Republicans, Christian conservative Republicans, fiscal conservative Republicans, Libertarians (and, though not personally, and only through others) neo-Nazis.

I know an alcoholic, a drug addict, several doobie monsters and I know at least 3 nuns.

I know a multi-millionaire and a family that’s barely getting by.

I know a painter, an aspiring rock star, an aspiring novelist, and several pop culture aficionados. I know a guy who would win a gold medal at the karaoke Olympics with his version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I know a bohemian and a poseur.

Once, I saw a basketball star walking around downtown and Rock Star in the suburbs.

I’ve seen beggars and crime; horrible violence and a dead guy. I’ve seen prostitution and dope deals. I’ve seen gangs.

I’ve seen people stop to help strangers stuck in the snow, and I’ve seen road rage.

A stranger gave me and my (then girlfriend now wife) a ride when our car broke down on New Years Eve.

I know a guy who speaks and writes Latin and appeared on Jeopardy.

For transportation, I’ve ridden a subway, a light rail train, a cab, a bicycle, a bus, a commuter van, and I’ve struggled to find parking in front of my own house. I’ve carpooled.

I’ve eaten at every kind of restaurant you can imagine: Chinese, Japanese, Soul Food, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Russian, Thai, German, American, Vegetarian, Seafood, Indian, Fast Food, and even a place with no prices on the menu (if you have to ask…).

I’ve benefited from all of it and from all of them.