When we moved to this small southwestern Indiana town twenty years ago we envisioned spending a restful existence here for the remainder of our lives. Small-town life was appealing to us. I had pleasant memories of my high school years in a small town so why not spend my retirement years seeking those same type of memories. It started out pretty well. For the first 10 years or so we are known as “those new people” on our road. I’m sure some also identified me as the “old deaf guy” but never said that to my face. Then about 10 years ago it seemed like things started to change.
People, via the small-town newspaper letter-to-the-editor, started complaining about all those city folks stealing their money to support their lavish urban lifestyles. The people in local government, particularly the county commissioners, started their power grabs. They began acting like local czars. Then came 2016 and things got way uglier! The top came off things when the pandemic happened. People were told to wear masks and almost the entire population of my small town adamantly refused. They are starting to come around now, especially since we are now considered a State hotspot but still many won’t consider wearing masks. Walmart corporate mandated masks but the locally owned grocery store which is the only one in town was filled with non-masked customers and even some employees for months before masks were mandated at the State level.
At that point I was beginning to feel like I was behind enemy lines. It was just not safe anymore to shop in this small town. I started driving 25 miles to a medium-sized city for all my needs. One of the home improvement centers there came out early on with a mandate that all customers were required to wear masks, no exceptions. The Kroger store did the same a few weeks later. It just felt safer to spend the extra hour on the road to keep from getting this dreaded virus that seemed to lurk all around me.
The final clue was when my small town went 70% for an in-your-face, lying, totally untrustworthy narcissist for another term as president. Being in Indiana for the biggest portion of my life, that was not unexpected but I still was surprised that given the things he has done for the last four years they still praised him.
Now to the final point of this post. By voting for that despicable person for president people are either saying trust, truth, and empathy don’t matter to them, or they actually endorse those terrible characteristics as now being small-town values.
Is that now how they want to be known?
Are small-town values about lies and lack of any empathy or trust? Is that the new norm for life in the hinterland?
I am seriously considering leaving small-town America and it’s way of life for something less fearful and more Christ-like. The feeling of being constantly behind enemy lines is just not something that makes for a satisfying retirement.