Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Texas means friendship, courage, tolerance in the face of growth, development

Killeen is growing.

I realize that’s not news, but it just hit me how fast Killeen and Fort Hood are growing. So are Temple, Belton, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and—oh gosh—even Nolanville.

Salado remains safe. For the moment, that is.

Yes, I realize I’m saying this like it’s a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing. But for this Texan, it’s bittersweet.

While driving past pastures alongside Highway 190 on my way to work Monday, I saw cattle grazing and tin barns…and construction signs. Just about six years ago when I moved to this area, there wasn’t as much development here as there is now.

Along with development comes people, and that means people from places other than Texas. I’m OK with that. I just don’t want Texas to lose its “Texan-ness.”

One of the things I hear most from folks who come from some place not Texas is that Texans are the kind of people who--when your fence is down and your cows are out—will go round up your cows and fix your fence, then drop by to tell you what they did in case you want to check your fence line for weaknesses. Even now, some three centuries after the state has been settled, Texans carry on this tradition of friendship and neighborliness. In fact, the name Texas comes from a Native American word for “friendship” that the Spanish explorers heard as “Tejas.”

That’s a pretty wonderful name to have.

I don’t want us to lose that as we move toward a more urban environment.

I say all this because I recently saw a story on the news that touched me. A reporter set up a situation with actors in a Texas restaurant involving a particularly sensitive topic. I won’t get into the whys and wherefores of the situation; it’s enough to say that the reporter was testing a stereotype about Texans. What he found was that Texans proved ourselves to be the kind of people who won’t stand for others being treated poorly.

The same test was done in another state with very different results. Out of 100 of those folks, less than a dozen spoke up against the maltreatment of others. Out of 53 Texans, 24 stood up to be counted. When asked why they didn’t speak up, the non-Texans all said, “It just wasn’t our business.”

The Texans, however, said this: “Nobody should be treated badly by anybody else. It’s just not right. We might not agree with them, but we sure don’t want to see them hurt.”

I’m not putting the people from the other state down for not getting involved. It’s an understandable reaction. It’s a regional difference. It’s how they do things up there and it works for them. No criticism intended at all. It’s just that Texans have a tradition of friendliness and acceptance of others and I was glad to see it being practiced all up front and honest in the way we do things here. That reputation has been downplayed in favor of ridiculing us for our “backward” ways. The reporter even said he was surprised that the Texans were so kind and accepting. I admit, that smarted a little to hear his bias spoken openly, but I was moved that he could finally see the Texans that I know and have always known.

I think, in many ways, the increase of people from other places has only added to our friendliness. We have become exposed to things, ideas and people from elsewhere and it has made us adapt in very positive ways. We’ve opened our arms to others and those who have responded in kind have changed us…for the better.

If it’s true that it’s the people that make a place, then I have to say thank you to all y’all who have contributed your part to making it that way.

So as I watch all the construction and growth happening in Central Texas, I’ll look at it for what it promises: hope, prosperity and acceptance.

And most especially, friendship.

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