Well, it’s fair time in Southwest Missouri. This week is the Newton County Fair, followed by the McDonald County Fair next weekend. For almost a decade I manned a booth at both fairs – first as a candidate for office and then as state representative answering questions and concerns.
Melody always commented that no matter when the McDonald County Fair was scheduled it was going to be the hottest weekend of the year. And while that’s almost always the case, the heat doesn’t seem to damper the spirit of those attending either event.
I don’t know if they have county fairs in the urban areas of the country. I kind of doubt if they do and that’s sad. I feel sorry for the city folks that don’t get to experience the atmosphere and especially the food that is the hallmark of a good old-fashioned county fair.
There is just something right about walking the fairgrounds and taking in the sights and sounds. But what is it about a county fair that’s so right? I think it’s the sense of family and wholesomeness that we embrace in this part of the country. It’s seeing the work of the kids that have labored so hard over their projects – be it crafts or livestock.
You know that it takes time, commitment and love to put so much effort into getting ready to show your work. And you know that the parents and other family members have also played a part in making all this happen so it strengthens those bonds and relationships.
I think it would be very beneficial if everyone had the opportunity to experience a county fair if for no other reason than to actually see and maybe understand a little about the farm life that most Americans take for granted. I seriously doubt that most people who were born and raised in urban areas have a real grasp of how food gets to the grocery store. It doesn’t just magically appear or come out of a factory – it takes hard work and dedication to feed America.
Now, the fact that they don’t understand farm life doesn’t make them bad people – just uninformed. Much like many rural people don’t really know much about living in an urban area and the challenges that brings. And that’s probably part of the disconnect that we see happening in this country today.
We are a diverse people, but we are also somewhat lazy and arrogant when it comes to understanding other points of view. All of us (me included) have a tendency to get into our own little world and assume everyone thinks just like we do. In theoretical terms it’s called “group think” where everyone reinforces the group along one line of thinking. And just like in the business world, that’s bad for our society.
Page 2 of 2 - That doesn’t mean that we have to stifle our thoughts or change our ways of thinking just because we want to be agreeable. Not at all. But, we do need to recognize that there are different ways of life and different philosophies and sometimes we do change how we think and act because we are exposed to new thoughts and views.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we must always be true to our “core” principles but that we need to make sure we understand why we believe and act the way we do. We cannot just blindly act, but need to have a foundation for our belief system that is ours and ours alone. And we need to understand that other people have different core beliefs.
I don’t want to imply that we shouldn’t stand up and fight to defend our beliefs. But, as a society, we need to have a better understanding and appreciation of the other person and their background. If we do then we will probably find that we have more things in common than we think.
But enough of the deep philosophical stuff. Go on out to the fair. Experience country life at its best. Eat too much fair food and try to stay cool. You won’t be sorry that you did.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.