Another Day in the Country

Who are my people?

© Another Day in the Country

There’s so much discussion about riots and shootings and politics and corruption in everything you hear and most of what you read. Add to that all the noise on the myriad of social media sites and one is almost overwhelmed.

Too much is just jibber-jabber, people venting, hoping, wishing, proclaiming, excusing, accusing; but every once in awhile some sound bite stands out.

When a young woman speaking about a loved one being shot and killed by police said “My people” are being targeted, abused, singled out, my attention hung suspended on that one phrase, “my people.”

Who are my people? There was a time in my life when my people would have been only the members of a particular church. My parents had chosen this religion and identified it as the truth. Within the confines of the church’s fundamental beliefs was the concept of not mingling with or marrying someone of a different religion.

I lived and worked within that religious construct for a big part of my life. When I chose to no longer be part of that belief system, I found myself floundering around, hunting for “my people.”

I craved that same solid feeling of belonging. Where would I find them?

There’s something very comforting about being with a group that thinks alike, sounds alike, eats alike, worships alike, looks alike, and has a similar work ethic. It’s wonderful to have a group of people that you can trust. It’s reassuring to know where people stand. This is often the stuff that long-term friendships are made of: We gravitate quite naturally to our kind of people, those folk that we think are like us.

My native culture, running back for as many generations that I can trace, is German. There was a time for my family when this cultural identity was most important, and this persisted even after they immigrated to America. It took a generation for that loyalty to shift from German to a religion and finally to a family lineage.

Today, my relatives, my people, are a hodge-podge of nationalities and spiritual beliefs. We run a range of religious beliefs, including atheists, political parties, including some who won’t vote, and ethnicities.

When I found myself going through divorce I clung to my small immediate family as “my people,” and then relatives and long-time friends as “my people.”

I wasn’t German, like my grandparents, I am American. My identification with other Americans was solidified when I traveled in other countries.

I haven’t yet come to believe that the whole of humanity are “my people,” although I do believe in the worth of every person.

I hold to my original construct that to be called “my people” you must prove yourself. I believe it is healthy to have a variety of friends who all see the world in a different light. Even though it is comforting to be with a group that thinks alike, it makes one intellectually lazy to sit with so much sameness. We need diversity of perspective, strengths, beliefs, and skills to be a strong people.

It was another day in the country and I sat talking with my people, my cousins, in fact, and we got on the subject of politics because I was reading a book about one of the current candidates.

Politics can be a hot topic in Kansas. Talking with these relatives of mine I discovered that their views of whom to vote for in the upcoming election are very different from mine.

“Really?” I said. “Tell me why.”

I don’t have an ounce of Indian blood running in my veins, but I’ve always loved a concept in their culture of the value of each person’s perspective as they sit in a circle: Each view is a little different and each view vitally important to the whole.

In the circle of ‘my people’ there is a wide variety of political opinions. My people are a diverse group, a challenging bunch, loosely hinged together but with an over-riding factor that I finally figured out! What differentiates “my people” from the melting pot of humanity is not their ethnicity, their religion, their similar genetics, their age, their gender or where they live. My people are ethical, and as such, they are safe to claim!

Last modified Sept. 28, 2016

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