One way to measure the difference in opinions by large groups of Americans across these vast and connected states is to count the size of one’s backyard.
In rural America, families tend to have large back yards. They may not be formal ones, but the wilderness, the mountainous landscapes, make for endless opportunity to grow, play, and learn many life lessons.
This is the America where kids fall and scrape their knees, only to get back up to keep running, falling and adventuring. This is the America where learning happens, not through a life of textbooks and lectures, but through years of figuring out how to do things when no one is there to tell you how to do them.
In rural America, you usually grow up with people that look like you and talk like you. People in these parts are always smiling, lending a helping hand and talking to strangers, but they aren’t accustomed to growing up with people that sound different and play according to different rules.
Then there is the other America. The place where families don’t have too much in terms of a backyard, and they don’t mind. Life is busy, and there are places to get to in a hurry. You can’t get too far in a small backyard, so you learn how to get to places in fast moving machines.
In this concrete, geometric America, strange faces surround you. People with faces much different than that of your family. People that shake hands differently. Some don’t shake hands. They kiss you on both cheeks when they say hello. In big city America, it’s not unusual at all to become familiar with the unfamiliar.
Somehow, for a very long time now, the people in both Americas have learned to live together. Not together as in the same neighborhood, but together under one flag, one constitution. Through this symbolic and powerful connection, life has worked for most people most of the time.
And now, in 2017, just as the new year is making itself known, things seem to be changing. People in rural America wanted to catch a break, and they made their voices heard in November. People in big city America are now standing up, sharing their points of views, with ideas and suggestions formed by life experiences, the kinds of experiences that those in the other America may not understand.
Through all of this, those outside America are waiting, wanting to know when the man in charge of those with small and large back yards will bring everyone together to act in the interest of everyone, everywhere.
When it comes to back yards, size doesn’t matter for those that are waiting to get one. Waiting to be in our America, next to you and me. Waiting to get a back yard of their own.
Let’s let them have one.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on February 1, 2017.