The Sun-Time report on voter feelings in Centralia was no surprise to me.I spent the first 18 years of my life in rural Illinois, and since then living in Chicago suburbs.Growing up, all I heard was how horrible and “evil” Chicago was.
Once I lived in this area, a common (but certainly not universal) subtext from city/suburban dwellers was a sense that rural people are a bit stupid and too convinced of their own moral superiority.
While most hard-wired opinion can contain a grain of truth, I say from experience that both perspectives are wrongheaded and unfair.As Americans ever more rigidly sort themselves into “tribes,” we are forgetting an absolute truth of human nature:Wherever you go, whomever you meet, people are individuals first, not groups.
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In other words, from “Mayberry” to Peoria to Chicago to Alaska, you will find a fair number of intelligent, kind and open-minded human beings, as well as a predictable subset of jerks, thugs, morons and mean-spirited haters — and everything in between.
The differences among geographical areas are not in the “insides” of people, in their essential moral values or their dreams for themselves and their children.The frictions arise from culture:differences in how we experience and live our days,what jobs we have, the nature of our communities and schools, the available resources to enhance quality of life, familial and community connections, etc.
These divisions can be, if not bridged, eased by understanding and tolerance.
A small example of how politicians and certain media profit from amplifying and enhancing dislike or hatred of “the other” can be seen in gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey’s obsession with hands.As a working farmer, Bailey is proud of the fact that his hands have calluses, while Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s don’t.
I understand. My family were farmers, through many generations, and it is genuinely hard work.But so are many other professions that don’t depend on physical labor.All work is holy.From experience, I know that physical labor is good for the soul, but it shouldn’t be a determinant of one’s readiness for high public office, nor does it automatically make anyone more virtuous.
Though money generally makes life easier, Pritzker didn’t get where he is simply by having a lot of it.In his years in office, despite Centralia’s general dislike of his policies, he at least gave the state a budget — something the last Republican governor refused to do.
So please, Centralia voters, remember we are all one family, doing the best we can, wherever we live, whatever our jobs.The Latin motto on our currency can still come true:E pluribus unum,“Out of many, one” — if we can find the will to do it.
Jane Artabasy, Glencoe
Different world, different time
I grew up in Pinckneyville. When I was a kid, our congressman was Kenneth Gray, followed by Paul Simon, both Democrats. I graduated from Pinckneyville Community High School in 1964, so the southern Illinois I remember wasn’t as Republican/reactionary as it is now.
Somehow Republicans, who support sunsetting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and increasing taxes on the working class while cutting taxes on rich people and corporations, have convinced southern Illinoisans to vote against their own self-interests. All Republicans have to say is “gay marriage” and “abortion,” and they get their vote. Well, that’s my opinion as an out-of-touch liberal urbanite.
As Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Sadly, I don’t want to.
Bob Barth, Edgewater