Good Luck

September 27th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


The rural lifestyle has its advantages, and I hope we can keep it that way.

While larger cities are seeing riots, looting and economic hardship, we have been able to make the adjustments necessary to maintain our lives as best as possible while living in a pandemic and also maintaining peaceful harmony in a diverse community.

That is a credit to everyone who calls Liberal home.

Yes, some have spoken out against injustice, but many of those same people have also complimented our local law enforcement officers.

Ivanhoe Love, Jr., has pointed out that racism is “alive and well” in Liberal, but he also said defunded the police did not make any sense. He said those officers protect minorities from being mistreated.

Racism will always be “alive and well” because some people will always believe themselves to be better than others for a number of reasons. The color of their skin is just one way people think of themselves to be superior.

I grew up with grandparents who never graduated high school, and while they expected me to do well in school and to graduate, they also didn’t expect me to think my education made me any better than anyone else.

There are some who believe their bank account and their wealth determines the value of a person.

Still, others look at their physical attributes as a measuring stick to how they stack up to others.

There are many ways we discriminate. Race is definitely one of them.

But in the rural community, we look at these issues less and less because we understand something even greater than all the ways we separate.

We understand how much we accomplish by working together.

We know why communities need basic amenities, like grocery stores, schools, local radio stations and newspapers, local restaurants and jobs.

The urban areas take these for granted to a certain degree, and that brings us to another form of discrimination. Some believe coming from a small town or living in a rural community is some sort of handicap.

Like most prejudice trains of thought, some believe those who live in a small community are there because they couldn’t make it in an urban community, that they are somehow less intelligent than their metropolitan counter parts.

I’m not sure how much intelligence is required to take a hammer and smash in a shop window and loot all its belongings like what I see happening in urban cities.

We don’t do those things in rural America. We know how hard it is to build each and every business we have, and we don’t intentionally tear them up.

Many times on social media when I banter back and forth with those form a different political view than my own, when their frustration reaches the tipping point that I won’t become one of their socialist drones, they look at my Facebook page and realize that I am from a rural town in Kansas, and that becomes the target of their insults.

That must be it, they surmise. He is just a back-country yokel that doesn’t understand the real issues facing the world.

I’ve even had former classmates who have moved to other places in America and have adopted some of these socialist views.

I have been blessed to work in an industry that brought many people through Liberal, and I was able to learn from many of them. I have friends form coast to coast thanks to working in media.

When the newspaper was owned by corporate interests, I was sent to papers in New Mexico and Texas, even as far south as San Antonio, to help those papers in the transition to newer techniques and the transition to color in the mid 1990s.

When other owners bought the paper, I went to other areas in the South.

My wife is from Allentown, Penn. We met in the 1990s on this new platform called “America Online,” or AOL for short.

I was able to attend Seward County Community College and then finished my college education with Kansas Newman College, which is now Newman University.

I’ve been fortunate to travel around the country, from New York to Los Angeles to Orlando, and I’ve visited the Dominican Republic to help build a church.

But prejudice doesn’t ask about any of that. Judgement comes without reason, just as it does with racism, just as it does with beauty or wealth or regionalism.

One of my favorite lines from those who will find some way to think themselves better than you is when a person with no sociopolitical backgrounds replies to something I’ve said with, “He needs to learn some history.”

I spent my entire college career doing just that, and I’ve spent considerable time on independent studies of history.

Again, they don’t ask that.

Instead, many believe they are the originators of finding out history wasn’t always good, as if we didn’t know slavery existed, Native Americans were massacred and Christopher Columbus wasn’t the nicest person to the natives on the islands he visited.

History is laced with atrocities, and what we have learned from it is individual liberty is the best guard against it, and the rural lifestyle tends to be the most peaceful.

There will never be a utopia as long as people are involved. We are imperfect creations.

And most of us use some measuring stick to try to elevate ourselves over others, either believing ourselves to be intellectual giants, the most attractive person in the universe, or simply better than someone else because of the color of our skin.

And where more people gather, like in cities, the more the desire to feel the need to separate, or cluster, into group think.

I don’t consider myself superior for choosing the rural life, but I do consider myself fortunate for living here.

We aren’t free from prejudice or racism, but we seem to be more accepting by actually living with one another and respecting one another.

I hope we can keep it that way.

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