Monday, December 20, 2004

Small Towns

I’m pretty sure that someone somewhere is pointing to the horrific baby-stealing case in Missouri as evidence that Red States are just as lacking in “moral values” as Blue States and that they’re all hypocrites for blaming the woes of the world on Hollywood liberals. That’s just as unfair a statement as the broad brush the Right wing uses on the Left, and I for one refuse to accept either generalization.

The tragedy in Skidmore, Missouri, is just that: a tragedy. The fact that this little town has a rather grisly history is one of those coincidences that makes for tabloid journalism, but it doesn’t really say anything more about the town than the fact that these things happen. If you seek some deeper meaning to it, you will have to examine not just the town but yourself, because when you get right down to it, it doesn’t really matter where you live that forms the basis of your humanity.

As is frequently the case, I turn to dramatic literature to find enlightenment. The story of Skidmore reminded me of two plays: Our Town by Thornton Wilder, and The Rimers of Eldritch by Lanford Wilson. They are polar opposites in their views of life in a small town, but in many ways they come to the same conclusions: life in a small town is just as complex as it is anywhere else. That’s both disturbing and comforting because it shows that underneath it all, we are all pretty much the same. Perhaps, then, finding a common ground to reconcile our differences, whether it’s through this tragedy and the shock it provides, or something more hopeful such as the desire to have a home and the comforts of those we love, may be easier to do than we think.