Chained to a mindset in Appalachia? Not by my own doing

6049308491_52c032c31e-1I republished my first blog entry entitled, “I am chained to Appalachia” on the new blog address recently.

I had originally published it on another service but after my wife and I were talking one night, she convinced me to start a new blog and purchase the domain name for the site,

My blog was intended to share my reflections and thoughts of my feelings in the moment or my feelings about a particular topic of interest. For short, it’s personal opinion.

Which leads me to why I was surprised to see that my first blog entry had been shared by someone that I think very highly of. It was a compliment to see that this gentleman had shared it with his friends on his Facebook page.

What I was disappointed with was the reaction from just a few people. I know you can’t please everyone but one comment on my friend’s thread jumped out at me in such a way that I was at first angry, then disappointed at the response the man had given and directed at me.

He said in his response:

Wrong. [to author of this piece] You are not chained to Appalachia. Rather you are chained to your own mindset.

And I could go to Miami, or Seattle, or Nova Scotia, or anywhere and find someone just like you bemoaning chains of their own making …woe is me, if only this place would change, I would thrive!

Wrong. I am not chained to my own mindset, sir. I have been brow beaten, brainwashed and tortured by the system in Appalachia.  An archaic system that does not reward creativity, inspiration or ideas from its people.

This system has been in place for many years and politically needs to change if we are going to grow Appalachia. The same system will even take those ideas that have been developed or hatched and either suppress them or take credit for them.

Yes, I am chained to Appalachia of my own choosing.

But, if you had read the full article, you’d find that I am chained to Appalachia, have been and yes, still am, buoyed by hope. It’s sad that I have to view being chained to Appalachia in the description of slavery or being enslaved to the system because we all are enslaved to this place.

Some just chose to keep on riding the Disneyland ride because they became complacent, satisfied. Well, I am not satisfied with the where Appalachia is.

Appalachia can achieve more but not with the chained mindset that you and others have. Maybe that’s why so many young people have left here and never returned, for when they have, chained mindsets have told them that their ideas won’t work here. What’s that phrase I’ve heard so often? Oh, “You went to college, you moved off away from here and now you come back all high and mighty. You’ve got above your raising.”

Those of us who have stayed, have ideas, dreams, thoughts of making Appalachia better but were immediately met with the mindset of “That won’t work here.” or we’re laughed at or made fun of.

That’s why I didn’t speak up when I was younger and take a stand. I didn’t want the ridicule. Now that I am 51 and I find “my groove” and simply say what my heart feels, I’m ridiculed for being chained to my own mindset.

Jacki Bentley came across my blog recently and read my first entry, “I am chained to Appalachia” and she thanked me for writing that entry.  I was a little surprised by her reaction so I wrote her and asked her why she was thanking me.

She wrote back that the blog entry was “everything I have trouble expressing when people ask why I stay.” By the way, Jacki lives in West Virginia and is a young woman who I have seen grow up and go through a lot of difficult times in her life. She concluded her statement by saying to me that she “wonders very often why we stay,” but adds that “I just don’t feel ready to give up.”

Another person commenting on that same thread added that they were “not sure what this writer would like to see changed, but being ‘bitter” is a sure way of not changing things.”

Well, it’s all how you use the “bitter”.  As I stated in my first blog entry, living in Appalachia has made me bitter, many times feeling hopeless and wanting answers.

It’s left me bitter, angry and hateful that I let Appalachia flood my mind full of negative thoughts, suppressing ideas, dreams, unrealized and unfulfilled goals.

I let Appalachia and the system seduce me into complacency. Sort of like the Disneyland ride I mentioned earlier.

Oh yes, I could go to a thousand points other than Appalachia and make my home. I think the gentleman used Miami, Seattle, or Nova Scotia as examples and saying that if I went there that someone just like me would be “bemoaning chains of their own making …woe is me, if only this place would change, I would thrive!”

No sir. I don’t want Appalachia to change, not in the things that are so meaningful to my soul; my upbringing, family, friends, the mountains. No, that is home.

What I want to change in Appalachia, is the mindset of some people, and sadly that mindset is one similar to yours and others that say it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Just imagine if the Wright Brothers had listened to all of their detractors and naysayers. We might not have known flight. The same could be said for John F. Kennedy when he said his goal was to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. Sure, he was laughed at but after his death, our country realized his dream and it became a reality.

Maybe the Appalachia I dream of will happen when I am gone, but one thing is for sure. We’ll never progress forward with a mindset that you and other Appalachians have.

So, I guess its time for me to break out the hammer, chisel and file and work on that link called “negative mindset” in my set of Appalachian chains.  The sooner I break that bad link and cast it off, the better off I will be.



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