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  • Johnny Carrol Sain

Between two worlds

I’m a man caught between two worlds. I wear Walmart jeans and buy my flannel shirts at Atwood's when they’re on sale. I drive a 4x4, wear a ball cap most of the time, kill a lot of animals, and just gave up chewing tobacco about five years ago. I still crave a chaw of Taylor’s Pride every now and then. I can’t hide my very rural and very Southern drawl and, to my wife’s chagrin, can’t think of one item of clothing or furniture that doesn’t look better with Realtree camo on it. I’ve got guns, and I’m considering a concealed carry permit. I grew up in the Assembly of God church and loved Jesus… or at least said I did for most of my life. My life’s goal is to be a good man, and that’s defined by honor, integrity and respect for others. Basically, I want to be someone who my family — now, before me, and after me — can be proud of.

As a young adult, I never cared anything about politics and was content to listen to those who claimed to know more about the issues and vote according to what they thought. Most of those folks were church leaders — pastors, deacons, elders. Hell, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a church leader around here. I’d wager that we have more churches per capita than nearly any other place in the nation. Only the number of banks can rival the number of churches. Coincidentally, church leadership and bank leadership often overlap… that’s another topic for another time, though.

But here’s the deal now: I don’t share the same world view as most folks who look and talk like me. It took years of education and introspection to arrive at this point. And, honestly, I sometimes pine for the old days, which might be why I always seem to be chasing those ghosts of yesterday. Relationships and life in general would be so much less complicated if I could go back. But I can’t.

The strangest part of my reality is the genuine love I share with so many who I don’t agree with — even the pastors, deacons, and elders… and some bankers. These relationships are currently stressed and navigated with extreme care, but still, they endure. Those folks get me, at the core, and I get them. In contrast, there’s a cultural chasm between many of the people I agree with politically that often seems unbridgeable. I always feel that they view me as a barbarian, perpetually wiping blood off my chin whiskers and sharpening a hatchet.

It is, of course, entirely possible that my perception of being looked down on by the more educated and well-spoken people who I politically agree with is wrong. But those old cultural insecurities are rooted deep. Those cultural insecurities are the foundation for the political leanings, fear, and anger of most of my friends, neighbors, and family. Like I said, we — the rural South — are all the same at the core.

The point of this post is to offer a listening ear and understanding heart to any other barbarians out there who have been asking themselves the hard questions during these stressful times. I’ve got more questions than answers myself. Sometimes there are no answers. But asking the questions is important. It’s the most important.

I understand the incredible courage it takes to examine with skepticism nearly everything you’ve thought to be true. I understand the extreme difficulty in overcoming generations of cultural insecurity. I understand what’s at stake for you and promise to be discreet. No arguing. No judgment. Just discussion about our mutual search for truth and understanding

If you ever want to talk, just give me a holler.

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