It Takes All Kinds (of Kinds)

Now some point a finger and let ignorance linger
If they’d look in the mirror they’d find.
That ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.*

For most of my life, I stuck with my kind of people. Do you know what I mean? I hung out with people with similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds; similar religious and political views; people with whom I thought I had the most in common.

When I was around folks who saw the world too differently from me, I would tend to become wary of conflict or feel a peculiar need to proselytize (I’m not just talking religion, it could be anything on the list of life events). I felt safe in alikedness.

I’ve always heard: People are the same everywhere.  I used to believe that. Not anymore. And more importantly, why would we want them to be?

7 years ago, I left my lifelong Midwest residency for a job in Oregon, then California, then back to Oregon and now, for the past 3 years, I’ve been buried deep in southern Texas. I learned real quickly that living and working in a place isn’t at all like passing through on vacation. I’ve been blessed to do a lot of traveling, and as a tourist, I’ve loved being an observer. But when you live and work with people, you don’t just observe – you participate whether it’s sand dollars and starfish or javelinas and jalapenos!

With every relocation, I’ve been introduced to new ways of understanding a well turned phrase. Each move has brought people into my life with whom I’ve had seemingly little in common but oh, what they’ve taught me by helping me see our world through their eyes.

One of the things I’ve discovered through these adventures is that people are not the same everywhere. There are lots of common traits: goodness, kindness, compassion, meanness, arrogance, selfishness. But by and large, we’re regional thinkers. It goes way beyond food and fashion and accents. Different places plant different kinds of thoughts in folks. Usually, not always, the thinking grows and spreads.

I’ve found people in the Midwest to be different from people on the West coast who are different from folks down here in the South.

That’s kind of great!

I’ve learned so much from people who aren’t my kind. The friends I’ve made, and the diverse groups I’ve broken bread with, have taught me to value our differences instead of feeling the need to conform myself or to reform/inform others.

I’ve certainly learned that it takes all kinds of kinds. I know some of you aren’t big country music fans, but would you take a couple of minutes to watch this video anyway? I didn’t add it as filler. It’s more of a visual philosophy.

*Lyric by Don Henry

After 7 years on the road and 3 years in the oil field, I’ve met a lot of kinds of kinds. 

If it were practical and possible, I’d recommend everyone uproot (even if only for a year or two) and plant themselves in an entirely different region to live and work with people they don’t think are their kind. We have remarkable things to learn from each other!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here at Fork. Our Deep in the Heart of Texas, a long way from nowhere, gate guarding Internet has been nominal on good days. It’s still hit and miss but I’ve decided to post more often on the hit days.

I’m writing again, in part, because I’ve learned so much from all of you and y’all are one diverse bunch! To quote John Denver (yes, I’m equally surprised at the attribution – case in point):

I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.

Thank you for the gift! It does take all kinds of kinds!

Right-wing, Left-wing or Thigh?

My Mom was a terrific cook! Her fried chicken was unrivaled. She loved cooking. Every meal was a celebration for her and everything was made from scratch. We’d have fried chicken, homemade noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls,coleslaw, fresh snapped green beans, 7 layer jello salad, and at least two kinds of pie. And this was when we weren’t having company!

When we had fried chicken at home, Mom always ate the wings. She claimed she liked them the best. But when we went to KFC, she always ordered a thigh. It was a Mom-martyr thing. Now that I’m a Mom, I get it.

Just like my Mom, I’ve eaten a lot of wings, but they’re not my favorite.

I’ve sampled Right-wing politics and Left-wing politics.

I’ve joined Right-wing churches and Left-wing churches.

As with chicken, I find I like the middle meat better. The most surprising and disheartening part of affiliation for me, is the mocking that’s distributed evenly from left to right.

The term moderate in the context of politics and religion has become synonymous with:

a. no conviction

b. no opinion

c. no passion

d. all of the above

Since I have convictions, opinions and passions, I’m searching for a new word, but I don’t think it’s thigh.

When my kids were in college, they both took Logic, a Philosophy 101 course. One of the lessons they shared with me was how to have the best debate. To engage in a truly valuable discussion, always talk about your opponents strongest argument, not their weakest. How often do we ever hear that? How much we might learn!

Political rallies, news bites and sermons are tainted with ridicule towards those who lean the other direction. Frequently this is done by choosing a quote or an example that is aberrant to the group as a whole. This isn’t making an argument from their strengths, it isn’t even making an argument from their position.

Have you ever stopped behind someone at a traffic light, read their bumper sticker and known instantly that you wouldn’t like them?

Does your jaw tighten when you read one of these?

If Ignorance is Bliss, You Must Be One Happy Liberal

Proud to Be Everything The Right Wing Hates

I Pray…  Deal With It

Born Once …  That’s Plenty

There’s such a rush to judgement. Don’t we at least owe each other a modicum of respect for having convictions, even if they aren’t ours? You don’t have to sell me, just share with me. Help me see the world through your eyes.

I vote for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Don’t judge me by my bumper sticker. I may be borrowing my neighbor’s car.