Old Fashioned Values

Created on 11/3/2009

A few days ago a cousin telephoned to tell me that her cousin, on her dad’s side, was in town from Georgia, USA. Would I like to join them for dinner?

It was the first time I had seen John, his wife Betty and his sister Janet in nearly fifty years. Their mother was a British GI bride who had returned with her soldier husband to a farm just after the war.

Yesterday was the appointed day and we duly reconnected. They still live in a small rural town about 150 miles out of Atlanta where John teaches agricultural and forestry business and Janet teaches the Arts at the same High School.

As some of you know I have experience as a Lecturer in both Further and Higher Education in the UK and you might share my view that there are vast swathes of this part of the English academic structure that simply make no sense. One of the great curses here being that the systems are forced to change top down led by theorists rather than allowed to evolve and improve due to logic and experience. Sadly America seems to follow the same mistaken path although there the motivation might be more commercial and less ideologically driven.

But back to my extended family. I had forgotten how sweet and charming people from the backwoods of America can be. They didn’t complain about anything, they totally lacked cynicism and their attitude is totally positive and loving. They are deeply patriotic, love their country and even when they don’t support a leader as they don’t support President Obama, they sensibly wished him the strength and wisdom to complete his ambitious plans. Perhaps we could learn something from these “old fashioned” values.

Watching these country cousins sit open mouthed as they listened to the British branch of our loud, opinionated and feisty family complain about everything in Britain was a treat. They just couldn’t believe how we criticize almost everything in the UK, a country that they still enjoy and respect greatly.

One of the things that will stay with me from our brief time together was the ready smile on the faces of these genuinely good and wholesome people. We all hugged one another when it came to say our farewells and expressed the hope that we won’t be 100 years old when we next meet. After a great meal and the wonderful company of our kissing cousins I came away with a smile on my face.

It’s easy to forget that it was people like John, Janet and Betty who built America with their appreciation of family, education, tradition, law and justice. The sophisticates in the big cities, including me, should all learn something from this brief return to all our yesterdays.