Ray Fowler

Ray Fowler

In July 2022, I completed a 5,137-mile motorcycle trip to St. Louis and back. This particular trip was shorter than others I have made, but it was particularly memorable. I met dozens of folks at gas stations, restaurants and motels in Red State America, and I made some observations and formed some conclusions about inclusiveness and unity.

In Eureka, Nevada, another biker, Mike, invited me to join him for breakfast. We talked a lot about motorcycles until Mike halted our conversation. He signaled our waitress that he wanted to buy breakfast for a down-on-his-luck local, but she waved him off. Someone else had already paid for the meal.

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(11) comments

craigwiesner

Great post and nice way to start my Thursday! We have a dear friend who rides across the country every major election year, stopping in small towns all along the way and talking to people, doing some interviews, getting to know what is going on in their lives. She's a progressive and the vast majority of people she speaks to are more conservative. The hospitality she has received on all of those trips has been beautiful. I've always felt that the vast majority of people in our country, who may disagree,sometimes fiercely on issues, are at their core kind, generous, and ready to help neighbors and strangers. Yeah, in the last few years I've also come to realize that a small percentage, both left and right, are not very nice and are blind to the beauty of the divine in each and every member of creation. All I can do about that is to keep seeing that beauty and keep treating each person I encounter with kindness, respect, generosity, and compassion. You obviously have that nailed, and I love the idea of you refilling your human tank as you zoom across the country. Blessings on the journey!

Ray Fowler

Thanks, Craig, for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts...

I feel very strongly the vocal left discourages a meaningful dialog between folks with differing viewpoints. Two years ago, a Cato Institute survey reported some interesting findings. Comparing folks at opposite ends of the education spectrum... only about a quarter of Republicans and Democrats with a high school education or some college worried that their political views could harm them at work. However, when you look at folks with post grad education, three-quarters (77%) of Republicans worried that their views could affect them in the workplace. Democrats? The percentage remains fairly flat... only 25% of Democrats worried that their views could affect their jobs. The survey also reported that staunch liberals are the only group comfortable sharing their political views. In my experience, those staunch liberals share their political views freely in the workplace and in other venues.

There is hope. I feel that treating others as you suggest... with kindness, respect, generosity, and compassion can move the needle.

craigwiesner

Thanks Ray. It makes me sad to learn that 77% of Republicans feel that they can't express their views without suffering adverse consequences. I'd love to sit down with someone who feels that way and talk about specific things they are afraid of saying that they think might get them fired or ostracized. My friend who travels the country before each major election found that it was progressives who were terrified of speaking out in their community. We need to work on the whole discourse thing and I think you, and I, and a few folks here in the DJ world are doing just that. Thanks!!!! And, thanks to the DJ for providing this safe space!!!

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Mr. Fowler,

In my youth, I travelled outside of the Bay Area in search of recreation. To protect the innocent, my recreational pursuits shall remain nameless. But they were found as far north as Dixon and south to Modesto. In those towns, I noticed people were "different". I don't have the courage to ride a motorcycle more than roughly forty miles. That is the number of miles it takes to travel from my home in the Mat-Su Borough to the Municipality of Anchorage. Forty miles is all it takes for children to be taught the truth about where milk comes from. While both statements are true, milk does come from cows, not cartons in a supermarket.

I must wonder how many adults believe they know others through pop culture narratives, as opposed to firsthand. Regardless, yes, to inclusiveness. Thanks for the surreptitious adventure.

Ray Fowler

Thanks, Wilfredo...

I wrote over the past week that more inappropriate and degrading ad hominem rhetoric appears to come from the left side of the aisle. That is certainly the case in these pages. Tyler Fuller-Battles' LTE in today's DJ seems to corroborate that conclusion... he believes Republicans are evil. While I disagree with a lot of policy decisions made by our current administration, I would not say the president is evil.

There is still hope...

Terence Y

Great guest perspective, Ray. Very relatable as I’ve/we’ve encountered the same experiences in travels to, and through, Red State America. It’s always great to talk to locals. When they hear you’re visiting from a Blue State, they become more interested in confirming whether the “rumors” they hear about crime and congestion and other assorted knick-knacks are true. They usually are, unfortunately. There are sometimes discussions about politics, but hardly ever with a disparaging attitude. Of course, it’s not disparaging to me, since I can relate to their point(s). BTW, as a retired HS history teacher, what do you think of the Presidential biographies by the History Channel? Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and T Roosevelt?

Ray Fowler

I have seen some of the programs... they're not always scholarly but by and large they are accurate. I wish they would air more actual history instead of shows about garage sales and ancient aliens. Although, there is some kind of mysterious alluring quality to the Oak Island show.

GW... totally indispensable. There would not be a United States today without him. However, there was a dark side to ol' George. Check Jumonville Glen, Morristown mutineers, and Major Andre. Abe... simply amazing. I recommend "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Grant is so underrated, but not as a general. If Lincoln brings Grant east to deal with Lee after Gettysburg, the Civil War ends earlier, and maybe... maybe... Reconstruction keeps Southern Democrats from re-assuming control of the South. That's a big maybe. Grant is seen by some as a weak president due to scandals in his administration. Perhaps his weakness was picking the wrong people for important jobs. However, one pick that was very successful was William Tecumseh Sherman. Then again, Uncle Billy also had a dark side... especially after the Civil War. Roosevelt was the first progressive president and he ruffled feathers. He was very popular except with the Democratic Party and Republican Party inner circles. To them, he was the original Orange Man.

As an aside, years ago, while riding on US 395, I spied a huge Sequoia tree in the small town of Big Pine. The "Roosevelt Tree" was planted in 1913 in honor of TR. Unfortunately, the drought and infestation led to the tree being removed two years ago. I'm glad I snapped some photos. It was magnificent.

Terence Y

Ray, after watching the biographies (still on Roosevelt), it’s the childhood and events outside of traditional history class that kept me interested. In Lincoln, the actions (or should I say inaction) of General McClellan could have potentially shortened the Civil War (debatably) by a few years if he had been more “motivated” to go after Lee after beating Lee in Antietam. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend individual guided tours of Gettysburg and Saratoga (among my most memorable vacations) and if you haven’t seen them, the Men Who Built America and the Men Who Built America: Frontiersman series are worth the time. Recently, I was again treated to the sight of the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia NP. Some say it’s as big as Sherman’s reputation and impact. BTW, loving the original Orange Man comparison.

Ray Fowler

Hey, Terence

Thanks for the recommendation. I have seen some snippets from the "Men Who Built America" series, but the "Frontiersmen" version sounds super intriguing. I'll check it out... once I drag myself away from watching "The View."

Yeah... George McClellan. According to Abe, McClellan had a case of the "slows." Still, he was popular with his men. George ran against Lincoln in 1864 on a platform that he would end the war. Lincoln thought he would lose, and Republicans actually changed the name of their party. BTW the Republicans made a strong showing in that election which was held on... November 8.

Tafhdyd

Ray,

An excellent read to start the day. Thanks for sharing. I will try to comment later if the pain will let me.

Ray Fowler

Tafhdyd...

That's the best compliment I could ever receive. Thanks. I welcome your comments. Later, buddy...

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