Town Mouse and Country Mouse
The gap between urban and rural lifestyles has been getting wider throughout the industrial age, and shows signs of becoming much, much worse in the information age. Living in the country now means less access to internet and cell phone services, though satellites are bridging that gap – if you have the money. Increasingly, people who have the money to stay connected are moving to country estates for the privacy that country living affords them. Away from the cameras and surveillance that have become the new normal for city dwellers. The suburbs are no longer enough to get away from the problems of urban living, and even small towns are becoming increasingly urbanized.
In America, as with every industrialized nation in the twenty-first century, to live in the city means to surrender your anonymity. You are public. What secrets you have are becoming harder and harder to protect. There are advantages to the encroaching surveillance and intrusion – crime rates are down in places that have security cameras installed. We trade our freedom for security, which is becoming an easier pill to swallow as our lives become increasingly padded with technology. A cell phone with built-in video camera is a powerful weapon on the city streets, protection from police corruption and insurance investigators as well as the odd mugger or rapist. Better, in many respects, than a gun, which has its own hazards in this environment. Many city dwellers own firearms in the USA, but the situations where a gun is an advantage is unbalanced by even more situations where just having a gun will get you in trouble. Extreme care must be used when drawing a gun in a city, and poor judgment can cost innocent lives.
Living independently in deep rural environments means doing without most of the technological comforts or lack of privacy. You are responsible for your own security, which probably consists of a combination of dogs and guns and fences. Your security makes you more isolated from your neighbors, but the people you do meet are very likely to have similar ideas about such things – as well as similar tastes in music, religion, and politics. Education is harder to get, but also carries less of an advantage. Life is simpler – much simpler. It is easy to reduce complex issues to their most basic terms – everything is black-and-white. Freedom is paramount, because that’s really the only advantage you have over the city dweller.
This is the dividing factor in American politics right now – town mouse versus country mouse. Urban liberals against rural conservatives. In the long run, the numbers of the rural population will dwindle until they no longer represent a political force to be reckoned with, while the increased educational benefits of urban living will create a more diverse variety of liberals. In the meantime, the dying conservative movement is thrashing in impotent rage – their simplistic ideology still a powerful tool of the sociopathic industrialists. Things will get worse before they get better, but they will get better.
There is a new breed of rural dweller. More connected, less isolated, better educated. More open minded than the stodgy conservatives of a simpler time. Still fond of freedom, dogs, and guns – but also more open to new ideas. These people put up solar panels and/or windmills to improve their self-sufficiency. They recycle, and practice sustainable farming practices. They surf the ‘net and watch TV on a satellite service. Most importantly, less likely to be a tool for Big Business and evangelical grifters. This is the new country mouse. Not so different than the town mouse anymore, but still not exactly the same. City and country will always be different worlds, but as we continue to evolve into the twenty-second century, we will find that our differences are less important than our commonalities.
We are all human, and that is what binds us. No environment can change us so much that we lose that bond. We are too much alike to let small differences divide us, and the sooner we all learn that, the better our lives will be.