Opinion » Guest Opinions

When Did We Lose Our Way


"Politically Correct" is derived from the term "Correct Political Orientation." It was first delivered in a speech by Chairman Mao Tse Tung on May1st, 1939. "It was used with effectiveness by the Red Guard during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in order to foster conformity in thought and speech."

It has been a year since our family fled Northern California for greener pastures. Our town of Sebastopol, a small bucolic community north of San Francisco was one of those sleepy hamlets lost to a time when life was so much simpler. The Gravenstein apple was Sebastopol's claim to fame before the rise of vineyard acquisitions took their toll.

It was once a place where barbershops brimmed with quirky locals. It was a place of laughter, innocence and sometimes profound sadness, where right and wrong was more clearly defined. A place where best friends stood by you through thick and thin. It was a place where people spoke their minds clearly without fear of reprisal.

When did a way of life become so irrelevant and inconsequential? When did we lose our way?

The new arrivals brought with them a disdain for traditions of the past. It was a single mindedness that supplanted these quaint relics with agenda driven ideology; an ideology that left many in the dust.

The apple orchards are mostly gone. A few holdouts remain. Our towns a different place now.... a very different place. It's become a guarded, intolerant, Orwellian world, held hostage to the insidious sway of Political Correctness.

It's a place where private conversations are no longer privy to public consumption. Where a frantic dairy farmer and his sons desperately gather up cattle set free by local anarchists. A place where flag holders to memorialize the fallen are filled in with cement.

It's a place where neighbor is pitted against neighbor. In our town conformity is the convention of the day. Those who misspeak are marginalized, and those who resist the opportunity to repent are ostracized.

Transplants from "The People's Republic of Berkeley" (known as Berserkly) add layers of inane rules and regulations to the growing dismay of farmers and ranchers who settled this area.

What's most appalling is the arrogance of these individuals who feel they are far more adept at governing the nuances of our world than you and me. Your point of view is no longer needed in a society that no longer understands it. The end result is a place with very little personal freedom, a place where someone's always looking over your shoulder.

A friend of mine from Estonia lamented one day about his growing despair. I was taken aback when he confessed that he had more freedom under Soviet domination than living here. The previous day he was accosted by an irate neighbor. She informed him that he could no longer cut his grass do to the fact that he was murdering tiny bugs in the lawn. Unfortunately, bizarre outcries such as this are commonplace. Even the swatting of flies in public can invoke similar responses.

A family burning brush on their property are taken to court when an oak sapling is discovered smoldering in the pile. In the town of Napa a restaurateur's business is vandalized for serving politically inappropriate cuisine (foie gras) on the menu. Radical extremists tore through the walls of the restaurant and poured cement down the drains causing over $100,000 dollars in damage. They also videotaped and threatened his children. Vaccines for polio and the like are shunned by a growing number of mothers who view them as the harbingers of the destruction of human kind.

One grows numb to thought processes more akin to a delirium of thought where only the clinically insane must reside. The second coming of the Dark Ages was upon us. I contemplated the horrifying aftermath of raising our son in a Stepford Zone. I had growing concerns about his long term exposure to locals that appeared to have lost their passion for life itself. This self-inflicted wound (political correctness) had essentially smothered the lifeblood out of a once vibrant community.

It was time for us to leave this place before it consumed us. Where would we go? I have always subscribed to the notion that there existed an amicable place that resisted the present and perpetuated the past. A hamlet lost to time, a "Bedford Falls".

(Bedford Falls, town from the Frank Capra movie "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart.)

In a moments notice I could conjure up the tattered black and white vistas of a place and a people long distant in the past.

I journeyed the back roads of this land in search of such a place. I deciphered cryptic colloquialisms at town hall meetings. At the local diner over bacon and eggs I was given seminars on shearing sheep. In Baton Rogue I stumbled upon a woman who baked the finest pies outside of the Adirondacks. I learned of her blue ribbon glories and dismal setbacks due to faulty crust continuity. In Vermont I traversed covered bridges groaning from the weight of vehicles while I dreamt of places steeped in dreams.

In the end we settled upon a place in the Carolinas that gave us the freedom to breathe.

I no longer suffer the consequences of speaking my mind. The basic tenets of our new world are a balance between Democratic and Republican ideals. It's a healthy mix that brings opposing viewpoints to the table in the search for common ground.

Now and then I think about the desperate one's we left behind. The friends who for a variety of reasons are unable to leave. To this day I cannot fathom how a people can exist inside a vacuum. A place of such profound dysfunctionality defies human reason.