the problem of rural america

I’ve been thinking about the basic issues contained in this FPR article for some weeks now. As with many blog posts, the comment box discussion proves just as stimulating—if not more so—as the author’s original content.

But it’s clear that there’s a muddledness in folks’ thoughts here. On the one hand, most everyone wants to affirm the basic goodness of rural economics, culture, and life; on the other, the fact is that not many people engaging in these sorts of conversation actually live in rural locales. Even the preconditions for supporting localism seem to rely on urban contexts. To speak for myself: I didn’t learn about Wendell Berry by growing up in rural Texas. I learned about him by going to a world-class university, and then by living in a city (in this case, Burlington, VT) where everybody had seemingly read him—and where there were enough used bookshops for me to get my hands on a $6 copy of What Are People For?

This muddledness, culminating in impasse, is well expressed in a comment made by the article’s author:

Patrick, for what it’s worth, words like ordinary, routine, decency, order, small and local work fairly well at Front Porch and at the places where Zrim and I blog. Those are not the words one associates with evangelicalism, transformationalism, or their Presbyterian outposts.

This sounds less like an argument, and more like an arbitrary statement by someone who can’t think up an argument. I suppose that everyone commenting on this post is experiencing the double-mindedness I’m experiencing with respect to this issue: we want to support rural communities—but we love the cultural amenities (or, more likely, the job opportunities) offered by the city too well!

If you’re not convinced about the bad way rural America has gotten into, glimpse through this Chronicle of Higher Education article.

(If you want a loud-and-clear—and, at times, downright virulent—renunciation of rural America by liberal urban America, read the comments. The only sensible one is from a self-proclaimed conservative “old geezer”: number 86.)


One response to “the problem of rural america

  1. did you read the comments all the way to 86? like whoa. i read the article and 86, 87, and 88.

    life is such a debate. i like what 86 has to say although i am hung up on his tone. its so defensive, which is understandable, but he could really have come from a strengths perspective rather than a pessimistic one.

    one problem is that not everything can be results oriented. but hey, im a social worker and its really frippin hard to get results in everything. i might as well give up on life….

    86 makes some blanket statements as well. i think i am just over the whole debate and instead of continuing the never ending ridiculousness of politics, lets start creating some solutions and working together to help both rural and urban america. i dont believe one can exist without the other, therefore i agree that it needs saving and that maybe if the ghettos had changed at all in the past several decades that they would have some clout in rural america.

    and yes i do need almond milk and tofu silly.

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