Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Time for Identity

Hello friends,

"You're not from here." I have heard that comment many times, since our retirement from the Navy. People can tell by my voice, immediately, that I'm just not from the southern Appalachians. No, I'm not from here, although I've lived here since 1996, and two years in '92 through '94. I'm not from here, but I love it.

I love the people, whose honesty and kindness are a testimony to the lives they live. Never fear that you'll get stuck on the side of the Interstate if your car breaks down. Someone is going to stop to help. Someone else will contact the State Police, and, quite frankly, you're likely to draw a crowd.

It amazes me, and angers me, when I hear the people of the Appalachian southern states ridiculed or made light of, as though they are too ignorant to come in out of the rain. Let's not forget that this is the birthplace of Country music, which has made stars of guitar pickers from all over the world, including Australia.

When I was a little girl, I spent some wonderful days in the care of a half-Cherokee woman who taught me how to cook, sew, and to love. She was from Johnson City Tennessee, and her last name was...you guessed it...Johnson. You have not lived until you've tasted her fried peach pies. And the thought of her buttered biscuits, dripping with orange blossom honey, still makes my mouth water. Yum.

My point is that much is being made of southern Appalachia in this election year. I've heard these dear people brushed off as "real rednecks," totally unworthy of the smallest modicum of respect. This hurts my heart. You see, my sweet husband is from Tennessee, and his twangy country voice was one of the things that made it easy for me to fall in love with him. The ignorance of many news people, simply boggles my mind. The very idea that intelligence can be determined by your colloquial accent is sheer nonsense.

Who thinks that Henry Kissinger is a low-brow, simply because he speaks with an accent. We all have accents. I have a north Florida accent, which means I sound like I'm from California or Indiana or any other place which has assimilated so many accents that anything original has been wrung out.

I feel deeply for Senator Obama when his speech is referred to as too intellectual. That too is nonsense to me. I understand every word he says. Is he brilliant? You bet he is. He's smart enough to know that he doesn't know everything, so he goes to the brightest of the bright for advice and counsel. I don't very much trust a person who "knows everything." That person is often a "self-made man" who adores his maker.

I can state very positively that with every speech, I wonder about John McCain's ability to guide our country out of the mess his party has given to us. After all, he is the one who has spent nearly 30 years straddling fences and "making deals" across the isle. Making deals does not necessarily mean compromise. It can also mean that you flow where the wind blows. Every word out of his mouth tells me he is not a nice man.

I am not amused with John McCain's political ads. Far from making me question Barack Obama's capacity to lead, McCain's ads make me question his abilities...not to mention his mental capacity. For God's sake, he's arm in arm with Rush Limbaugh, a radio broadcaster, whose army of "ditto-heads" still follow him blindly, in spite of his known drug addictions. It makes me wonder if they all gather together in someone's basement, shaving one another's back and putting their head's together to agree on the next political move.

This is not smart. Do they really think that the American voting public are idiots? Uninformed? In a coma? Believe me, even way back here in the boondocks, where the "real rednecks" live, we have the Internet, and I know very few people who don't have a computer. Oh yes, one of those computer illiterate people is John McCain.

Oh! Will this election cycle never end? I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the carrion picking the bones. Oh, for the days of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow! When news meant news, and "tabloid journalism" was shunned as not real journalism.

So, this is why I talk about this being a time for identity...a time to know one's heart. Who am I? And where do I belong? I've been asked that a lot, and I can definitely declare: I may not have been from here, but I am now.

I hope and pray that God sees the faithfulness of the people of this region. I hope that they receive the President that they need. This is where I will spend the rest of my life, among God's people, who turn to Him each day. There's a humility here, that touches my heart. I'm from Appalachia. This is my home.

Dearest Father in heaven grant us the wisdom that only comes from you. Hold our hands as we step out in a journey that only Your grace can guide. Help us to know our hearts, and help us to understand who we are, as well as whose we are.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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