Thankful for faithfulness

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful for faithfulness

My sister, a resident of San Diego, commented during a recent visit that, “Beauty is the commodity sought after in California; it sets the unofficial pecking order. The prettier you are, the higher your respect and place.” This set us to thinking about other areas of the country we had lived and the valued human “commodity” in each region, including our own.

In Washington, D.C., where I spent a decade working for Indiana congressmen, the commodity was who you knew. That determined your place in the behemoth that is the federal government. A typical exchange on the subway might be, “Oh, you work for a Congressman; I can trump that. I work for the Secretary of such and such.” Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but only a little.

In Midland, Michigan, where my family lived for a couple of years in the heart of the Dow Chemical Company’s dominion, the commodity seemed to be educational accomplishment. “Which university did you get that Ph.D. in Chemistry from? Was mine better?” I am sure we could all reflect on other areas of the nation famous for their regional distinctions (Texas?) and find yet other drivers of human measurement; but in thinking about Southwest Indiana, I opined to my sister, who also grew up here, that we really don’t have a commodity. Her reply was instant, “you are so wrong.” She then proceeded to explain:

“When you live in a place like California and come back here, it is obvious that the commodity in this area of Indiana is faithfulness. Look out your window. It takes a lot of faith to plant seeds year after year in those fields, not knowing what will come of it. They would have a hard time with efforts like that in California. It also takes a lot of faithfulness to keep true to your kids, spouses and other family members. We are in moral free fall in California, and it is having a devastating effect on the family. It also takes a lot of faith to go to work every day and not look to the government for your every want. And, it takes a lot of faith to have a Church in just about every neighborhood and even the most far flung rural corners of a county.”

I was taken aback. I had really never thought about Indiana in those terms, but very quickly I concluded that she was right. The people in this area do care deeply about the things that matter most. The majority are indeed moral, hard workers who value faith and family. In other words, if you want to impress someone in Darmstadt, Haubstadt, Princeton – you name it, you will be far better off telling them how many hours you volunteered for a charity than wearing the latest, coolest fashion. Besides, where else than Evansville are hundreds of thousands of folks drawn out to a fall festival to eat anything that can be deep fried simply because we LOVE to support our charitable organizations?

It is true that we do not have the ocean beaches or the snow-capped mountains. We don’t have 70 degree days year round. In fact, it gets frustratingly hot and humid here in the summertime, and it can be bone-crushing cold in the winter. But what we do have is far more important.

Our founders envisioned a country where we were to be guaranteed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think that they would be pleased that here in Southern Indiana, our pursuit of happiness has focused not on things that we cannot change, like climate, or passing things, like personal beauty, but on the permanent, more important things.

As we settle in for yet another Thanksgiving Holiday, I know that I will be giving thanks that we live in an area where every day faithful people are going about the business of serving God, taking care of their families, loving their neighbor, helping the stranger, and, equally important in this vain world, that this faithfulness is a commodity that we in Indiana do value very highly. Happy Thanksgiving!

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State Rep. Tom Washburne serves as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Washburne represents the entirety of Gibson County and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.