Last month I wrote about how Tennessee welcomes you unless you're gay, poor, or have special needs. I related how I was too embarrassed to tell people where I was from and didn't mind making something up - Boston, Denver, Seattle - anywhere but here.
That was before I started paying attention to what was happening in our neighbor state to the east of us. I used to think North Carolina ceded us back to the Union because they simply didn't like us but it turns out we have more in common than just our hills and stills.
There's a whole lot of shaking going on. Both states are trembling with fear, ignorance, loathing and God's word. One would be justified in thinking the two states are racing to see which one will reenter the 18th century first.
Take a moment to scan these summaries of what's happening in North Carolina and Tennessee. There's more in this mirror image than just the widths of the two states and there's more at stake than these silly bills.
NC: Killing the youth vote and shortening early voting period
TN: Student IDs and an underhanded primary plan
Punishing Poor People
NC: background checks on people seeking welfare and food stamps
TN: cut off food stamps for kids not making passing grades in school
(video of Martin Bashir grilling this utter disgrace to humanity)
That Old Time Religion
NC: Resolution proposed to establish a state religion DOA
TN: Paranoid fears of Muslims leads to the absurd
Regardless of whether or not these idiotic measures pass, it will take decades, if not forever, for North Carolinans and Tennesseans to recover from the stupidity and insanity on the part of these public servants. The fallout just creates more division and, in the meantime, far more serious problems go unresolved.
If I were to pen an open letter to my state legislators in Tennessee, it would go something like the one Jamison Doran wrote to those in North Carolina. She talks about the profound love she has for her native state:
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I have found that to be almost painfully true as someone who is no longer a resident of North Carolina. I find myself often longing for the cool mountain breezes, ice-cold creeks, sweet tea, and southern hospitality. I wear a pendant of the state around my neck, publicly displaying where my heart lies, and that while Washington, D.C. might be my home right now, it'll never actually be home.I can relate because I felt exactly the same way all the years I lived in Colorado and elsewhere, returning as often as circumstances would allow. I too felt that the time would arrive when my native state would beckon me home. Ten years ago when the decision was actually made to come back once and for all, I didn't have the "benefit" of reading glaring and embarrassing headlines about "another horrid piece of legislation".
After reviewing North Carolina's collection of absurd and draconian measures, which are so much like Tennessee's that one would be justified in wondering if our legislators met at the bottom of a ravine on the state line, Jamison ends with a plea:
In this "race to the bottom" my only hope is your utter disregard for what is good and right in the state helps bring people together to voice their outrage over what you're doing. So when the time comes we're mobilized to take our state back and out of the hands of the likes of all of you.It's too late for me but I urge Jamison to remember the words of one of her state's most talented authors:
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
|Thomas Wolfe Museum|