In the book, “The Story of Kennett: Shaping the Future One Child at a Time,” I find that a key principle of what makes us feel safe, comfortable and at home in our community has to do with how much we trust our friends and neighbors. But why do we feel trust for the people around us? I think it is partly because we want to trust them and work at building trust and a sense of community which includes how our lives fit together. I think we want to move towards a sense of equality that “I’m OK” and “you’re OK.”
An observation---Human beings like to profile people, put them in boxes, even stereotypes and segment them into different categories, using one’s best set of prejudices and values. It is easier to understand how we fit together in this food chain of life. When I was a young Naval Officer traveling in the south, people were very nice to me, but they were always sizing me up. They wanted to know who my people were when they said, “Where ya’all from?” (Or what I’ve always thought of as, “Who’s your Daddy?”)
I have found that you have to work to develop trust and I would usually answer, “Franklin County” because I was born in Franklin County, Ohio. But there are 25 states with a Franklin County and no one ever asked me which one. It would help if I used a little of my father’s west Texas drawl when I was in the South. It was all about developing some modicum of connection so people would open up and be straight with you.
In the South, they are not really big on Yankees. The consensus was Yankees were like hemorrhoids, if they came down and went back up again they weren’t so bad, but if they came down and stayed they were a real pain in the behind. Often the second question you got was; “Where you ‘all go to Church?” And that quickly separates the Jews, from the Catholics and the Protestants and the main line Protestants from the evangelicals. Today it will even give insight where a person is on the political spectrum.
In some places you had to make a choice of who you are. In Alabama it was “Roll Tide” vs “War Eagle” ---which football team were you rooting for- Alabama or Auburn? In South Carolina it was USC vs Clemson. In North Carolina it was basketball – Duke vs Chapel Hill vs NC State. Everyone’s second favorite basketball team was Wake Forest.
I worked shifts in Virginia and had a heck of a time connecting to my operators until I found the topic of the Washington Red Skins and made friends for life. In Germany it was about what you drove. You were either BMW or Mercedes. It seems BMW owners are cool and Mercedes owners are prosperous. And it made a difference of which engine was in the car.
In Switzerland it was said that the difference between a Swiss banker and a Swiss farmer was the farmer washed his Mercedes by hand and the banker had it washed for him.
Kennett was always fairly egalitarian with kids from the Mushroom industry, DuPont brats whose Dads worked at the Experimental Station, and kids of owners of small business etc.. But at school it wasn’t so much, “Who’s your daddy?” but what group you were in. Like the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when the principal’s secretary says about Ferris, “He's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, bloods, waistoids, dweebies; they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.”
The communities with the most trust, friendship and love are the best communities to live in. I just came back from Norway last month, where my granddaughter Tilda was christened. The Scandinavian countries are significantly happier than the USA and one of the reasons they attribute that to be is they trust people more than we do. They even trust their government to do the right thing by them. They have more trusting relationships than we do.
What is interesting is in this time of Facebook where we share many of our intimate experiences on line we don’t like to share much of our personal life with strangers. So, you have to work to build ties and connections that will serve the relationship well over time.
Friends are the most important possessions we have. And it just may be that the thing that really makes Kennett work so well is the trust, friendship and love we develop with each other. So, what do you say when you’re asked, “Who’s your daddy?”
Books may be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap or Resale Book Shoppe in Kennett. You can contact Bob at email@example.com.