Saturday 30th September 2017


Straddling a Fence
I’ve long straddled the gulf between the family I grew up with and the world I entered as a white collar college graduate. It has kept me uncomfortable in either place. When confronted by comments about ignorant, backwoods people, I want to defend ‘my people’, but I usually bite my tongue and keep quiet. Likewise when family or childhood friends grouse about city folk with their book leaning and lack of common sense, I keep quiet. I’m tugged at by both worlds, but belong totally to neither.
Recently I joined a group of college educated professional women to be part of a book club reading non-fiction to better understand the political and economic situation in our country. I was hoping to find a comfortable place to be myself. Our first session reviewed a book written by someone like me: rural raised but college educated. Someone who as an adult now straddles both worlds. I felt at home with the book. Not so other people. There were judgments of his upbringing, of his discomfort in the college environment, of his family dynamics. It quickly drifted into a US and THEM discussion. Look at how THEY live. THEY don’t want help. THEY were dismissed as beyond saving.
It didn’t come to my conscious mind until later, how uncomfortable I felt with that discussion. I tried to explain, with the help of one other woman (God bless her!), that this is all THEY have known. If you tell someone they can do better, it is an accusation that they are less than you. It’s a judging and finding THEM lacking. It’s challenging them, their parents, their grandparents, and so on back. And if hill and country people are anything, it’s loyal to family.
So I am back where I started: wanting the stimulation of college educated minds but defensive of who I am and where I came from.


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