I grew up in a small small town in Minnesota that was basically run by nuns and farmers. Life in my hometown was a place where doors were left unlocked, games were played in backyards not on computers or tvs, people waved when they passed by, the American Flag was honored and a crucifix was not a political statement but one of faith. But, like all things life and times changed.
The world became a different place and the commonly held values and beliefs that I was raised with seemed to become more uncommon as time progressed. This is not a negative statement on progress. I think amazing things have happened over the past 20 years that are magical.
I think we as a culture have become more aware and tolerant as a direct result of technology and having access to information via the internet.
When I sat down to put my thoughts together to write this, I asked some of my friends who were raised in big cities, if they experienced any of the values and memories that I did. Hands down, we all shared a common thread of these core beliefs: community, family, loyalty, compassion, honesty, being your word and having faith in the unseen. So, what I thought of as a “Country” based value system existed for my city buddy’s as well. How could this be?
OK. This is what I think. I think that we all ultimately come from small towns from foreign lands. My German and Irish ancestors all immigrated from small towns far away before they landed on Ellis Island and beyond.
Whether they ended up in big cities or small podunk towns like mine, they still passed along what I think of as these core values, values that exist no matter where a person lives.
So when people preach “small town values” I kinda bristle. Do we ever hear anyone preaching about “big city values?” I’ve had the good fortune to live in both small and big towns in the world throughout my life. As a result, I have come to see these really great core values live in both equally. Case in point, my day on 9/11.
I was living in New York City the day of 9/11. What I came to see was devastating and amazing. Bodies covered with dust walking uptown in a daze, the smell of burning electric wires and dead bodies permeating the air, a cloud of haze making eyes and minds blurry. I lost good dear friends in towers that day. But, I gained a community. My fellow New Yorkers showed just how good we can be as human beings. To watch how these hard “Big City” folks transformed into a platoon of good hearted neighbors was sobering. All those myths and stereotypes about New Yorkers faded into the background. They immediately came together like a small town at a barn raising…helping each other walk through this waking nightmare. Values.
For me the bottom line is that good values are good values. My hunch is these core beliefs trace back to our ancestors’ small towns. The good news is that they have continued to be strengthened as the many years have passed. For me, no matter where I am I do my best to hold tightly to what I know to be good and true. So, yeah…..these beliefs might come from my great country upbringing by nuns and farmers in rural Minnesota….but strong values live and prosper no matter where you live…..that country spirit is a place in the heart, not a place on the map.
This post was submitted by Cooper Boone.