Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pennsylvania on My Mind

That’s me a few years ago, on a visit back to the desolate and “bitter” land of western Pennsylvania.

Doesn’t it look depressing? All that wild greenery, enduring peacefulness, with a pristine park built to honor our veterans and streets lined with charming Victorian homes—why, it’s enough to drive anyone to irrational desperation.

I spent the better (far from bitter) part of four years in this lovely corner of the country, during college. Having traveled 47 of the United States and been a visitor in fifteen foreign countries, and I can attest that the breathtaking mountain vistas of Pennsylvania can easily compete with any locale for sheer natural beauty.

Rural Pennsylvanians love their homes, and many have lived there for generations. The “Big City” holds no allure for them; call them crazy (bitter?), but they prefer the Wordsworthian splendor of the Pennsylvania countryside. Schools close when deer season opens, the numerous town churches are packed on Sunday mornings--and it has always been so. Economics is irrelevant to the “guns and religion” of their lifestyle. Their reverence for our American right to bear arms, their faith and love of God and country, their admirable good values are instilled in their character and interwoven into the fabric of daily life.

A politician may not need to agree with or even understand the world view of our rural countrymen. But if he hopes to survive as a candidate, he would do well to respect it.