He leaned over and asked me where the band we were listening to was from. I told him, naming three towns within just a few miles of where we were.
“Are they locals?” he asked. I felt like reminding him that I had just said they were from three towns within a few miles of where we were sitting.
Instead, I said, “It depends what you mean by locals. I think those towns qualify as local.” His response took me off guard, “Born and raised in those towns.”
I thought those days were over, days when one had to be born and raised in a town to be considered a “local.” To me, locals are people who live in the area, whether they moved in yesterday or were born and raised there. But this man had his own out-dated definition.
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In small towns you will find people whose ancestors founded the town and those who moved in within the past six months or less.
You will also witness conflicts between those two groups. The “old timers” don’t like change and see the newly arrived as changing everything. The newly arrived see solutions to problems and, according to some, have little consideration for the way things have been for many years.
I am certain that you will find this phenomena in small towns across our country. Those who have lived forever in a town are threatened by those who come in and want to make changes.
In most instances these conflicts can be worked out but they also have the power to divide a town.
Many people do not like change. Change is unknown and the unknown is frequently seen as threatening. But the reality is that everything changes, nothing stays the same. If we get attached to that which is, we will be disappointed because it will not last. Nothing is forever.
I remember on a visit to London the excitement we felt as we sought out a pub we loved.
When we arrived we found an Indian restaurant. Though we love Indian food we were disappointed that we would not have the same plum pudding, the same booth and the magic we enjoyed at this place many years earlier. I also remember returning to my childhood home only to find the neighborhood had completely changed, for the better I might add. But it was not what I had expected.
Ah, there is the word that causes so much trouble — expected. Too often we expect that life will remain unchanged; that what we count on will always be there and that there will be no surprises — even pleasant surprises. Expectations get us in trouble every time.
This man, who was totally enjoying a new band and amazed at the musicians’ talent, did not seem to understand that his enjoyment was because four skilled men, who had lived in the area for only a few years, were creating great music.
In his mind they were not really members of the community. They were outsiders.
Separation in communities can create havoc. If the “newbies” are in one camp and the “old timers” in another, trouble will ultimately occur. We are all one on this planet. Yes, artificial lines have been drawn between towns, cities, countries and continents but from space they do not exist. The lines are in our heads or on paper.
Mary Friedel-Hunt, freelance writer, publisher (Voice of the River Valley) and a licensed clinical social worker, has been a psychotherapist for 32 years. Her column runs weekly in Faith & Values. You may contact her by writing to: P.O. Box 189, Lone Rock, WI. 53556.