Understanding, tolerance can bridge divisions between rural Illinois, Chicago

Wherever you go, whomever you meet, people are individuals first, not groups.

SHARE Understanding, tolerance can bridge divisions between rural Illinois, Chicago
Across the busy street from the Sentinel’s warehouse in Centralia, stands the Carrolin Bel Tower, which was funded by the late William V. Joy, editor and publisher of the Sentinel.

Across the busy street from the Sentinel’s warehouse in Centralia, stands the Carrolin Bel Tower, which was funded by the late William V. Joy, editor and publisher of the Sentinel.

Antonio Jacob Martinez for The Sun-Times

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.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. We want to hear from our readers. To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 375 words.

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

As a southern Illinois native, I read with interest your article “Southern discomfort” and Neil Steinberg’s follow-up “Downstate wisdom doesn’t wash.”

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

The Latest
Heyward delivered the lineup card and was treated to a one-minute video in the middle of the fourth inning
Team wins sixth straight game, but Ross warns late-season success not a guarantee of 2023 success
Edward Neequaye and the Lane defense nearly posted a shutout, only allowing Clark a special teams touchdown on the way to a 24-8 win that clinched the Champions’ first Illinois High School Association state playoff appearance since 2013.
Long term deals for Moncada ($70 million), Robert ($50 million) Jimenez ($43 million) and Anderson ($25 million) seemed like good business sense when they were made
The 30-year-old was shot in the head about 1:20 p.m. Saturday in the 300 block of West 110th Street.