It is easier to move rivers and mountains than to change a person’s basic nature.
Most writers are merely reporters of the changes they witness daily. One of their principal jobs is to keep an eye on the Guardians of the Past who do not realize or do not want to realize that change is inevitable—whether that be the end of slavery or letting women vote or allowing Gays to be in the military and to marry.
In re-reading my previous blog, I noticed I made some rather unkind mentions of my hometown, Okolona, Mississippi. I have heard back from people about that and I had to write and tell them that I gained a lifetime of things to write about while growing up, but I just didn’t want to try and do my creative growth there.
In returning to my hometown area two years ago for my first and only high-school reunion, I came back into contact with friends I grew up with who remained in Okolona and/or Mississippi or the South and didn’t leave. To stay put there meant you had to join everybody else and resist change. Each and everyone of the people at my reunion didn’t want equal women’s rights, gay rights or to up the minimum wage. They definitely didn’t want everyone to have health insurance and it seemed okay with them for the Guardians of the Past to diddle with their Social Security checks. I didn’t agree with them at all—but of course I haven’t spent the last sixty years in Mississippi.
The definition of CHANGE is to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. Social change may include changes in nature, social institutions, social behavior or social relations. Social change may be driven by cultural, religious, economic, scientific or technological forces. The word social has become a dirty word for many people who ally it with the word “socialism.” Such thinking is the fuel that keeps people where I grew up from being proponents of change.
Recently my cousin who lives in Austin, Texas, told me about a Gay employee of hers who was being bullied by some guys who lived in his apartment complex. He couldn’t take it any longer. Instead of finding other digs in Austin, he quit his job and moved to Portland, Oregon. Austin is generally thought of as a liberal city and George W. Bush once said due to its liberalism that “Austin is Weird.” Portland has the same maxim, “Keep Portland Weird”—but apparently in Portland the bullies aren’t as prevalent as they are in Texas. Austin is still in the South and thus carries a lot of baggage.
I just got back from five wonderful days spent with friends in Portland, Oregon. What an amazing city and what a great time I had there. Believe me, during those five days I saw change at its very essence. The friends I visited are Dave and Pete. Dave is a retired Episcopal priest in his seventies and Pete is a computer programmer who is 45. The two of them are going to get married September 7th as part of a regular Episcopal Sunday service. (Oregon recently approved same-sex marriage.)
Last Sunday after church services we joined the coffee and cookie social. All the elderly ladies of the church were talking about the absolutely wonderful Gay wedding that was held the previous Friday at the church. In Okolona, the older ladies of any church in town this past Sunday would have been horror stricken at the very thought of such a thing—yet in Portland at a regular church, not a gay one, they could rejoice in the happiness of two people uniting their love for one another.
After the social, Dave, Pete and I went to have brunch at a restaurant with a retired Lutheran pastor and his wife. They told us about their 16 year-old granddaughter who is transgendered from male to female. They proudly showed us her photo with her two sisters. Now, let’s just see how far that sort of talk would go in Okolona. See, Okolona has a century to go yet.
Also Dave is a collector of vacuum cleaners. He has dozens of them. Part of his garage is like a mini-museum. We went over to his friend Patrick’s place and he collects washing machines. He has a very large home and most of his collection of washing machines are connected and are in working order. He’s a great guy and fun and was only too glad to show me not only that collection but his coffee pot and mixer collections. He even mentioned that a couple of guys got married recently at his church. One was a collector of vacuum cleaners and the other of washers. As they marched down the aisle, the flower girl poured Tide on the carpet and the couple both held on to a vacuum cleaner and vacuumed as they proceeded toward their nuptials.
Crazy, you say? No, not in the least. I’ve met people who have gone gaga over Route 66, restoring old cars, Julia Child, collecting salt and pepper shakers, singers, church bulletins, old clocks, tea pots, opera recordings, movie stars, and you name it. Who is to say one is more crazy than the other? That would be like the skillet calling the pot black.
To paraphrase Socrates and his most famous pupil Plato, “What harm is being done by any of this?” Absolutely none. I know several same-sex couples who have been together for over fifty years. We’re just now finally getting around to legalizing their love. Who are we to say they can’t be allowed that? Buying up old appliances and saving them from the trash heap and reselling them just adds to the economy.
So change is happening everyday. It is up to us writers to document this and remove fear from the word change. Slowly but surely change happens and the Guardians of the Past cannot stop it. The South will eventually, in maybe a hundred years, catch up to the rest of the world. It could happen sooner if they’d keep people like me rather than making us have to move to another location where change has a friendlier chance.