Evolving Peace

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Take Back Vermont


Driving down the dirt road from the trailhead of Spruce Mountain, I saw a man walking his dog. I felt like something was calling me to talk to him. I first slowed down, so as not to hit is furry friend and than I gave him a friendly wave. I slowed to a crawl and said “Hi.” I began to converse with this man, a man I had never spoken to or seen everbefore. Maurice was his name and when asked where he was from, he said “here.” “For how long I asked,” and he replied “forever.”

He told me that he lived around the corner. I already have driven through this dirt road many times before, knew without asking assumed he lived in one of the houses with the sign “Take Back Vermont” blazing across the front lawn. Driving through streets of Vermont, one can see that slogan occasionally popping out of the ground. To some the sign may represent a value that hallows the spirit of hatred or the symbol of bigotry. A few years back Vermont was the first to tackle the issue of civil unions for the homosexual community. The issue had divided Vermont into clear cut lines, America’s “liberal” state had woken up the old conservative base and gay marriages were not acceptable to them. I for one do not agree with the restriction of anyone’s right to marry or join in a civil union, that matter does not affect me and I am positive it has not effected anyone else’s own personal right to liberty. News flash, New Jersey just passed a civil unions law, maybe there will be signs Take Back New Jersey.

So further along in my conversation with Maurice, I asked him if he has seen a lot of changes around these parts in his lifetime. “Oh yeah, change it happens whether you like it or not… This road here was an old wagon road, but nobody used to come here then, it used to be gated up… All these people moved out here to have their house in the country.” He pointed up the hill, “they’re nice people I guess…put in a windmill with their desire to be of the grid, I guess that’s just the way of the future.”

I listened with empathy and told him that I grew up in what was a small town in New Jersey. When I was a child the town was populated with only 8,000 people. Farms were still in existence, dirt roads meandered throughout the wooded tracts of land. “No more,” I told him, the town is now filled with tracts of corporate headquarters, slews of Mc Mansions and rows of condominiums. Now it is just a mere faceless suburb of New York City, where nobody knows anyone’s name.

We discussed things further and he showed a little bitterness towards outsiders, “the problem with all the new folk is that nobody cares about the history.” He’s right I told him, people tend to come to a new area and do not care about it’s treasured past, all they want is the conveniences they had back home. The fancy latte’s, paved roads and services they all had at their fingertips. While Vermont had been Vermont for years, things are rapidly changing. I a newcomer to these parts try to understand of what was here before me. Like Maurice, I too do not want to see Vermont turned into faceless communities like the littered landscape of the rest of America.

So here, two people with divergent views and histories conversing on an old dirt road found some common ground. While the message of Take Back Vermont may have originated as a rebellion against civil unions, I foresee it is a message trying to hold back the progression of development and preserving the decorated past. As a newcomer, I want to see Vermont filled with wholesome communities, natural landscape and meandering farms. So I pulled away from Maurice and said it was a pleasure and until we meet again sometime. He replied to me “I’ll be here till I aint.”

Peace
Robb Kidd

“This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do.” Jack Kerouac


2 Comments:

At December 20, 2006 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I've passed by those houses many a time... one of em has a really mean dog that likes to chase me. I also know those people with the windmill, and one of those people with the signs gave them holy hell about it.

I see your point on the fear of Vermont changing. Change is hard for everyone, and when people don't deal with it well, we end up with things like idiotic religious fundamentalists.

But, I gathered from your post that you weren't here during the civil unions debate, where you could drive Rt 302 to Groton and see one of those TBV signs everywhere. It's unfortunately not as simple as it seems, there was a lot of hatred, ignorance and bigotry behind those signs. Many of these people saw, in some twisted way, their lives being changed by civil unions. I think it comes from this: there's always been a bit of privileged class in this country, namely, white male, straight Christians. And with every new advance in civil rights, that privilege shrinks a bit more. And hence Take Back Vermont. What? Marriage isn't just for straights any more? The horror. And of courese all of the ridiculous things they predicted never came true (massive influx of pedophiles, legalization of bestiality, incest, etc). People really lash out when they can't deal with change, and they somehow manage to feel victimized, even when the change doesn't affect them in the least.

And it also illustrates another common happening. I noticed that MANY TBV signs were on lower-income houses (not all, but many). So you had a lot of poor people that went out and voted for Republicans, whose economic policies are designed to help the rich and almost always hurt the poor, a classic manipulation.

Nevertheless, your interaction with that man just shows that we all have many things that keep people from interacting with each other when it doesn't have to be that way. I've met many nice people, and had nice conversations with them as long as I avoided religion and politics.

I added you to my VT blogroll.

 
At December 21, 2006 4:56 AM, Blogger Fred in Vermont said...

I kept waiting for you to bring up the issue of homosexuality but you never did. We are left to think that somehow that sign is not anti-gay. Perhaps the reason that this guy left his up after the civil union flap was that to him it just ment what you were discussing with him.

But we can't be sure because you did not bring the subject up.

 

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