Perspectives

It is important to sometimes take a step back and look at things from another perspective. Especially when reflecting on things past to keep from imagining it to be better than it really was.

May 1989

Perspectives shape our views of life

“Gee, you sure live away out in the sticks, don’t you?” said a new acquaintance as I answered the doorbell on a recent evening.

“I never think of it that way,” I replied and we went on with our business. But the more I thought about her remark the more I realized that most things in life are just a matter of perspective.

To her, I lived in the sticks. To me, I live in the best of all possible worlds. I live in a township with good roads and can be in Sedgwick, my home base, in eight minutes. I’m 10 minutes from Halstead and 12 minutes from Newton. The libraries in Sedgwick and Newton keep me supplied with books. If they don’t have a book I want, they send for it from the Central Library in Hutchinson.

The Sedgwick ambulance crew got here in 12 minutes when we needed them. The Sedgwick Fire Department made it in 13 minutes when a hay stack caught on fire.

The Wichita airport is 30 minutes away to connect me with the east coast, where two of my adult children and their families live. If I don’t want to fly, Amtrak gets me to the east coast in about 36 hours and stops in Newton.
I have all this, but also the peace and quiet of the country and good neighbors who are a blessing. I have Emma Creek to walk along. I have peaceful twilight hours. I have the birds, the soft green fields and the wide Kansas skies. I am only lonely if I let myself be.

In thinking of the overpowering importance of perspective, I remember my high school days at Abbyville as happy. Everyone in school was poor. I’m sure we would have been eligible for relief programs if there had been any to apply for. The girls had two cotton dresses for school and a better dress for Sunday. The boys wore overalls that had patches sewed on top of patches.

The high school library was inadequate, but our teachers were dedicated to helping us learn. Honora Becker, who later was a professor of English at Bethel College, introduced all of us country kids to Shakespeare with her detailed teaching of Julius Caesar.

We had just moved back to my mother’s birthplace so, as a freshman, I was the new kid in school. When, at the end of the first week I was elected president of the freshman class, I was elated. From most perspectives this was no big deal, since there were only 10 freshmen. But from my perspective, it was the equivalent of being elected governor of Kansas.

The school was so small everyone who wanted to could be on the first team. I’ll never forget the thrill of winning the Reno County championship in volleyball my senior year. Glen Moore, who still lives in Wichita, was our coach.
As we grow older, there is a temptation to talk of the good old days when everyone was honest, marriages lasted a lifetime and hard work was the key to success.

But from another perspective, how good were the good old days for pioneer families who worked from morning to night? How good were the good old days when women often died in childbirth and babies died of whooping cough, measles and diptheria? When little children were doomed to a life time in a wheelchair from the ravages of polio? When cataracts condemned a person to spend his years in darkness? How good were they for the children who lived out their short lives laboring long hours in the sweatshops? How good were they for the slaves living in fear of lynchings and beatings for no reason at all?

Perhaps the good old days were good if you were a man, white and very rich. But even they died of cholera, pneumonia and tuberculosis just like the women, children and slaves.

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