…as well as in the Bible Belt. I remember the first time I traveled to Arkansas as an adult, I asked a local if they consider this the South. The look he gave me was his answer before he answered. Lest I should ever forget that lesson, the statue in the middle of my town square is of a Confederate soldier. My county is “dry”, and our state constitution bans same sex marriage. My only concern about moving here was a concern of intolerance. My daughters and many friends are not Caucasian, and several friends and family members are gay. One of the few things I can’t tolerate is intolerance. But in our first couple of months, I am cautiously optimistic. There is more racial diversity here than we expected: there is a Hindu temple a mile from our home, and we have the largest population of Marshallese outside of the Marshall Islands (noone seems to know why). The large companies located here have attracted people from all over the world; as my daughter put it, everyone in her school is from somewhere else. There is even talk of finally putting alcohol on the ballot – people would no longer have to drive 20 miles to buy a bottle of wine. It is early, but I am cautiously optimistic as this diversity must eventually change a society. Mark Twain once said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I always thought you could substitute “travel” with being friends or even neighbors. My diverse family and I will strive to be part of that change.
“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” –Ralph W. Sockman