Rick raised the question about who is out of touch with reality in this country, and I’ve been thinking about that in what has been a year of pretty wide travel in the United States.
Last night, I was reading a wall of essays at Dallas Fort Worth Airport written by Texas school children about the school shooting in Connecticut. Almost uniformly, these public school kids made three points–that the shooter’s parents were divorced, that the problem was that the shooter didn’t have Jesus in his life, and that all would have been well if Obama hadn’t taken away guns from the teacher and administration. For what its worth, none of the kids spelled Obama’s name correctly. As least half of the kids mentioned that the teacher “helped them find Connecticut on a map.” The implication was that Connecticut was somewhere north of Timbuktu. It has been my experience of late that most people in this country seem incapable of finding most New England states on a map, and if they have any impression of New England, it is that we are some kind of odd socialist Scandinavian country, totally out of touch with reality but entirely quaint and irrelevant. Much as I don’t like Texas, and even as much of it feels like a holodeck, you can’t deny that the Texas economy is booming, that people are building churches, synagogues and museums even as churches, synagogues and museums are closing here. And boy does Massachusetts seem all white when you get back here from a place like Texas. And contrary to what everyone here seems to say, I met a number of young mexican immigrants who would never vote for Obama in a million years. Meanwhile, more Texas wall reading–that Texas has more corporate headquarters than most states, that Baylor is today recognized as America’s premier medical school/hospital, that in the global community Texas Tech is now edging out MIT and Cal Tech… A guy from Oklahoma asked why we in Massachusetts can’t even grow our own politicians, and joked about shipping us a reject like Elizabeth Squaw Warren. Recession? What recession. All of Worcester is empty store fronts and yet you can’t find vacant retail space in most of Texas.
I certainly don’t want to move to Texas. I liked getting out of that 80 degree weather back to the March snow, and I like my historic town and woods. But I’m at least comfortable that my Massachusetts boosterism sounds increasingly out of touch with reality, and at least I recognize that I live in Iceland. Its a sense of perspective that many on this blog, untraveled and provincial, would be wise to explore.