Living in the Bubble
You can run, but you can’t hide from the long arm of reality. We are, fortunately or unfortunately, all in this ‘catastrophe’ together.
Isabel has been known to say that nestled away in this Appalachian paradise we are able to escape many of the daily woes of the modern world. We live in a virtual bubble. That being said, I know for a fact that Isabel rarely turns on the Inn’s one-and-only TV situated in the alcove just off the kitchen. Micah Davenport hasn’t come out and accused Isabel of sticking her head in the sand, but he has commented on occasion that “just because we choose not to witness the world’s carnage on TV or in the newspapers doesn’t mean that it isn’t really happening out there.”
In spite of what I might have led you to believe, our town isn’t just another Mayberry, U.S.A. Unlike Barney Fife, Sheriff Kenny Payne most certainly walks around with six bullets in his holstered gun, and speeders out on the new four lane receive their just due when our law enforcement folks decide to use their state-of-the-art radar. But, it is still easy to separate ourselves from the rest of the world because of our slow pace, optimistic outlook, and our lack of exposure to world-class mayhem.
Isabel is quick to admit that our little county has problems of its own, but they probably don’t exist as a result of the county’s proximity to Atlanta, Chattanooga and the world at large. In my opinion, our local political fighting (and in-fighting) is just as intense as that in Chicago or D.C.; corruption and cronyism are alive and well in our town and county governments.
Crystal-clear untaxed alcohol still flows in generous quantities from the many rag-tag stills hidden away in our pristine mountains and forests. Cash crops of marijuana are slowly becoming the norm as we witness more and more flyovers by the D.E.A. I can’t speak for Isabel, but I believe that she sees our drug and alcohol problems as ‘victimless crimes.’ I am here to tell you that my recent experience with “tainted” brownies would fly in the face of that logic!
Our police blotters rarely ever see arrests for murder, armed robberies, physical assaults, or other forms of confrontational crime. Burglaries, of course, are quite frequent, and store owners can depend on a unrelenting stream of shoplifters. But, on the whole, most of our crime is non-confrontational in nature. Our jails are generally populated by alcohol and drug abusers, and many more of our local arrests culminate from simple parole violations. Possibly, because we are a dry county, tattoo parlors and strip joints are just not yet a part of our vocabulary. Funny that a county widely revered for it’s quality “white lightening” is still ‘dry’ in this year of 1986. Go figure!
No, we’re not impervious to news of the outside world. Rev. Calvin Payne and his flock recently mourned and celebrated the lives of those lost in January’s Challenger space shuttle disaster. The Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in Russia soon followed, again giving Calvin’s Payne’s small flock something else to pray about.
Isabel argues that the national news media rarely, if ever, provides us with happy and uplifting news. But, if she had been following the national news in April, she would have learned that Desmond Tutu had been elected archbishop in South Africa and that Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos had been driven out of the Phillipines; indeed, excellent news for many in the civilized world.
It is Micah’s opinion that we might be able to avoid and remain in denial of our ongoing national dilemmas on a short-term basis but, sooner or later, even here in our sheltered mountain paradise “those hens will eventually come home to roost.” A positive upholder of our constitution, Micah maintains that if we carefully study the issues, vote responsibly in the national elections, and elect the right people to diligently represent us, we can change the direction of history and witness positive trends in our country’s continuing good fortune. “Good luck with that,” says Isabel; “most people don’t read, really listen, or reason when it comes to our national elections. They just vote the way their parents did, without giving thought to the issues — if they vote at all.”
Micah believes that with our failure to recognize the warning signs, it is only a matter of time before higher taxes, erosion of our rights, international trade deficits, major entitlement issues, higher fuel prices, and maybe even an old fashioned “depression” will visit themselves on towns and cities throughout America.
Meantime, here in Appalachia, our rivers run pure, our lakes are cool and deep, and our green forests invite even the most discriminating hiker, naturist and camper. Our politicians may fight like thieves, our liquor is smooth and sweet, but here in the mountains, innate goodness, honesty, and integrity cannot be legislated; it is either already here — or it is not.
We walk daily, the fine line between naivete’ and “been there, done that.” Both Micah and Isabel know that we cannot forever escape the crush of the ouside world but, hopefully, it will be years before our bubble finally bursts.