by Andrew Lidden Pate, Jr.
The two “R’s” that dominate contemporary Rural America—Republicanism and tRumpism—are a far cry from those of the hard working people who were major contributors in the building of our great nation.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a deep-seated personal Religion and a strong sense of self-Reliance were the inner creative powers that drove the persons who built the communities in which the enduring values of our founders were actually lived out.
By Religion we do not mean a sectarianism of an exclusive kind. No, we mean Religion of a profoundly Spiritual kind practiced with great integrity .
And by self-Reliance we do not mean a sheltered self-centeredness. No, we mean a self-confidence so strong it reaches out to people of a different kind, ever-widening its boundaries to include others.
Today’s Republicanism and tRumpism are quite the opposite. They are destructively self-centered and abnormally exclusive, whereby the creative Spirit at the core of the original communities is being snuffed out by pervasive feelings of inferiority, which, consequently, has brought extraordinarily low self-esteem to the people. Rural Americans are killing themselves, undermining and destroying their time-honored way of life.
That need not be, indeed, must not be!.
Yes, it has been the case that the major shift in economic power to the cities and suburbs has inflicted a huge blow upon America’s small towns. But that shift has not been the only cause of the rural downfall. Internal moral weakness and inferiority-paralysis have played even greater roles.
Our small towns in America face a great challenge, which is to recover as quickly as possible the inclusive moral integrity and self-reliance they have lost in the 21st century.
And clearly, that recovery, if it is to happen, has to come from within. The farmers, the ranchers, the less formally educated, the individuals and families who believe passionately in the values that build real community— it is they who must rise to the challenge. The politicians cannot rise for them.