Like many baby boomers, I graduated in the '70s and went to work for a company that promised lifetime employment. Back then a corporate career required moving when your next job was on the other side of the country … or the world. My career took me from New York, to California and back to New York (3 work locations and 2 homes). We moved to Tokyo for several years. We returned to California for four years before heading east to New Hampshire. There was never a reason to settle into a community because we knew we would move soon. My personal community was family and friends scattered around the world, people I knew through work. What I never learned was how different community values are across the US.
I first realized what I was missing after we moved to New Hampshire. We connected with relatives in Massachusetts, which led to joining a gathering celebrating the engagement of a relative. As I was introduced to guests, it became apparent how much my family had sacrificed by moving repeatedly. The bride's entire life was represented at that party. Her nursery school teacher was there. Friends she'd known since she was four and gone to school with were there. It was clear everyone had many shared experiences, and shared community values about family, life, education and so much more.
Community Values Reflect American History
The polarization of America following the 2016 election, has highlighted how different we are. We're a country of immigrants with many different community values. My father came from Germany, my mother's parents from Ireland and Germany. Yet we no longer want to welcome immigrants?
Our lives depend on immigrants. From migrant farmers and the people willing to clean our houses, to those powering the US based technology industry, immigrants affect our daily lives.
Not used to being clueless, I've begun searching for answers. Why are so many Americans angry? Why do they think we can turn the clock back and bring American jobs home?
When I was laid off by IBM just 6 weeks shy of retirement, I eventually looked at the situation as my opportunity to start a business. My hope is I can use this experience to help others learn how to deal with the things changing our world.
Community Values are Based on Where You Live
You might not realize how your personal values are tied to the community where you grew up. From Colin Woodard's book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America (map above), you can see where your community values originate. You can also learn how they compare to where you currently live, using the definitions provided by BusinessInsider.com's Matthew Speiser.
I was born and raised in New York and lived most of my life in the northeast. Along with 2 stints on the California coast, I've lived my entire life with “Yankeedom” community values. Speiser's description that “Yankeedom values education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. Yankees are comfortable with government regulation” certainly matches my personal values.
But now that we're spending winters in Arizona, I'm struggling with … lots of things. How much of the conflict stems from the “conservative west” values versus life in a retirement community (that's not me) versus the political turmoil all around is uncertain. In fact this view of the US makes me wonder where I fit because once you've lived outside the US for several years, you really become a citizen of the world.
We Can Embrace or Fight Globalization
When you look at the map showing 11 nations, you may realize we're not as “united” as we think we are living in the United States of America. We have lots of benefits that people in Europe only gained with the creation of the European Union. We don't need visas to go to school, work or move from one state to another. But maybe we do adhere to American nations without realizing it?
The challenge and corresponding opportunity we all have, is to embrace the changes brought about by globalization. Or we can continue to fighting each other. My hope is that most of us look for ways to build positive lives at home, within our communities, the nation and the world as we all share the environment!
Have you had similar experiences?
Are you living in an area with the same/similar community values as your childhood home?
How did community values influence any major moves you've made?
Have you ever found yourself disagreeing with the values of the community where you live?
How have you dealt with these conflicts?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below … thanks!
Tina, I love your thoughtful and positive approach to differences. I have noticed that when I am traveling, especially outside the USA, I seek out and find delight in differences – behaviors, food, traditions, art, music, dance, … However, when I am on home turf, I am drawn to and find comfort in the familiar. One way I can poke holes in this limiting tendency is to get into a traveling state of mind and seek out the pleasure of experiencing and knowing the unfamiliar that may be just around the corner.
Gayle, What a great idea to pretend your’re traveling when it’s time to push past our boundaries & experience new things. Thanks for sharing