The diversity of this country’s people is almost as broad and unique as its landscapes. Growing up on the east coast surrounded by colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War history, which I considered the important stuff, it has been easy to forget or fail to see the other histories in the United States. Mexico, Spanish, Native American and even the French, controlled parts of this country only several generations ago. These influences are felt and apparent today in architecture, art, food, culture and even the spirit of a place. Somewhere I heard that America is less of melting pot and more of a salad, and I believe that is more accurate. The people in New York might be tomatoes, while Texas is a pepper, and Oregon a cucumber, the regions all play a part in this dish. Onions may be disliked by some, it does not mean they do not have value and add to the medley.
Being a tourist in this country reveals the secrets of why it is so great, but also why it often has a tough time getting along. The reality is that there are distinct regions with different histories and beliefs. The people of the Northeast are very different from those in the Southwest, and middle America is not like the coasts. One size does not fit all, which makes for difficult national politics. I frequently hear people in cities complain about rural folk and vice versa. However, I am not sure either hears what the other is saying. Values towards work, community, family, environment and spirituality are not the same and change almost as often as the landscape. Some places present a civility combined with a wink and a wave, others cut you off over and look the other way; still others say “live and let live,” while just a hundred miles down the road they will judge you every which way to Sunday. It is clear that people become accustom to wherever they are from, while it might strike the traveler as odd, it is normal for the folks from there.