As the cultural divide between rural and metropolitan America widens, it seems we’re more frequently choosing to interact and associate with people whose beliefs and opinions match with ours and less frequently venturing outside our social bubbles to meet new people and consider differing viewpoints.
Take the prospect of Vexit, for example. Some Virginians are so incensed by the changing of political power in the commonwealth’s capital that they’re discussing — how seriously the conversations are remains to be seen — some counties seceding from Old Dominion and joining up with West Virginia.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. rolled out the red carpet a few weeks ago at a press conference to encourage Virginia counties along the western side to hop on over to the Mountain State.
Doing such a thing is an incredibly difficult undertaking by design, imagine the havoc constantly shifting state borders would have on our lives. The only reason West Virginia was able to break off in the first place was because the country was tearing itself apart with a civil war.
We’ll set the complicated political processes and financial considerations aside for the time being.
It’s tough to deny that the counties in question have more in common with their West Virginia neighbors than they do with Richmond in many respects. That’s the case all over the country, though.
Watch a person from upstate New York’s eyes roll when someone from New York City says it’s OK to leave off the “City.” Or how about the coastal dwellers of California compared to almost everywhere else inland in their state.
Several years ago, author Colin Woodard mapped out the U.S. based on cultural similarities in his book, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”
With names like “Yankeedom,” across much of the Rust Belt, “Deep South,” pretty much where you’d expect it, and “The Left Coast,” all along the Pacific Ocean, Woodard gave geographical definition to the way we’ve been self-sorting in this country for hundreds of years. He argued that people moving to regions where others share their values was working to make the country’s polarization more pronounced.
We’re in “Greater Appalachia,” by the way, a wide cut across the country’s midsection that includes Virginia’s western counties, all of West Virginia and a trail all the way into northern Texas.
Woodard’s premise and the invitation from West Virginia got us thinking, and we’d like to hear your thoughts on it.
Should we sort ourselves according to our values and opinions? Would that make life more comfortable, or would we just get more anxious about people from “the outside?”
Does interacting with new people from different cultures enrich us, or does it cause us more strife than it’s worth?
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