The old adage is true: ideas have consequences. If you like the ideas in red states, you will like the consequences they produce. We’ve only lived in Tennessee for a little over three months and we have already seen and experienced the consequences of very different ideas than those that were so dominant in the blue state we fled. Here are just four of them.
Did you know that in the State of Tennessee it is the law to have the motto “In God We Trust” posted in every public school in a predominant place? How cool is that?
If God exists, we are accountable to Him. There are about a hundred million manifestations of this in our red state, but I would say the biggest one we have seen is the acknowledgement that since God exists, people have dignity. If people have dignity, lawmakers don’t let criminals roam the streets. If people have dignity, even the mayor stops to help when he sees someone broken down on the side of the road. If people have dignity, it’s just assumed you will smile and wave at every neighbor on your street. If people have dignity, offers to help are normal and natural. If people have dignity, neighbors take the time to introduce themselves (and many of them bring presents)! There is no running away and hiding when someone sees someone else in need of help. Socially awkward? Worried about what people think? Move out here and you’ll discover Tennesseans don’t care one bit. They will stop whatever they are doing and put the needs of other human beings in front of their own. It is a beautiful, humbling thing to watch and learn. (And coming from California where no one ever seems to have time to talk and you can go years without even seeing your next door neighbor, we have a lot to learn!) According to the Tennessee Historical Society, Tennessee became known as the “Volunteer State” during the Mexican American War when President James Polk asked for 2,600 volunteers and 30,000 Tennesseans responded! You can check it out here: https://tennesseehistory.org/volunteer-state. I can vouch that same spirit is alive and well here in Tennessee today.
“You Can’t Buy Happiness But You Can Buy Dirt.”
(Don’t worry… I’m not just listening to country music over here but I do love that song.) There is something natural and right and good about humans having their own plot of land to care for. In the blue state we came from, land and housing prices were so high, that although we greatly desired to have a big plot of land, we were just stuck in that typical 3-4 bedroom/2 bathroom home on a tiny lot most people find themselves in. Our family grew and our income grew, but unfortunately, so did the taxes and regulations. There is nothing wrong with owning a small home on a small lot if that is what the owner wants/needs and has worked for, but there is A LOT that is wrong with the housing situation in California. California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley summed it up best during the California Recall Election Debate when he acknowledged that property prices and cost of living are so high in California, the average California citizen must work until he or she is around 40 years old to save up enough money for a down payment! Good desires like the desire to have a garden or the desire to provide a large yard for your kids to play in so they don’t have to play in the street, are often unfulfilled and not for lack of trying. It is a direct result of the many roadblocks to property ownership that exists in blue states.
Family is Important.
If family is important, five million problems are immediately resolved. Think I’m exaggerating? Think about it…
- If family matters, history matters. If history matters, it is taught in the schools. (I have been shocked at how much our daughter has learned in her 5th grade history class here!)
- If family matters, kids are important. If kids are important, we’ll protect them. (Tennessee, along with 11 other states, has a “trigger law” which would automatically ban first and second trimester abortions in the event Roe vs. Wade is overturned. )
- If family matters, parents are the authority over their children, not the state. (Check out the executive order our governor signed prohibiting school boards from requiring their students wear a mask. His reasoning? PARENTS are the authority, not the school boards!) https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/pub/execorders/exec-orders-lee84.pdf
- If family matters, kids respect their elders. (“Bruh” has been replaced with “Yes Ma’am”, “Yes Sir.” We hear it at our kids’ schools, restaurants, grocery stores, from neighbor kids… Respect for elders is just woven into the culture here.)
- If family matters, we build houses big enough for big families! The picture below shows two of my boys playing soccer in our old backyard. This was considered a “big lot” in our neighborhood. As you can probably tell, that ball didn’t stay in our yard. Multiple times a day, two sheepish boys were knocking on the neighbors’ door asking if they could please throw it back. Below that picture is where my kids play soccer now. Because long ago we chose to be a one income family so I could stay home to nurture our children and care for the needs of our home (a concept that is detested amongst lawmaking circles in blue states) we lived in a 1,700 square foot home. Here in Tennessee, our home is double that. And that just does make life easier, plain and simple. A big home on a big lot with plenty of storage and plenty of room for children to just be children, has the power to relieve stress and ignite creativity for everyone in it! Can it fix all of life’s problems? No. Can it replace the fellowship that comes from having family and friends nearby? No. But, it can help unite a family unit. It can equip a family to take on a little bit more… another child, another pet, another overnight visitor, another weekly church group… More space is a gift that gives strength and that strength is meant for service. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, wisely said, “All the strength supplied to us by our gracious God is meant for service, not for indulgence or pride.”
People Can Govern Themselves.
Living on a small lot in a blue state where rules and regulations abound is not good times. I’ll never forget my husband getting chewed out by our county’s building and permit department when we added a wall in our home to create another bedroom. Or, when he came back home so discouraged after heading to the county office to inquire about the permits required to build a home on a lot we wanted to buy…$60,000..in permits! Or when we asked our builder neighbor friend across the street about converting our garage and adding a bathroom. He told us if we wanted to have it permitted, the county would come in and retroactively penalize us for any modifications we had previously made to our property! Contrast that with our spot here in Tennessee where, when we called our county’s permit department to ask about the rules for putting in a pool, the woman on the other line said, “You don’t need a permit for that honey, but you are really going to need a pool out here because it’s hot in the summer so we hope you get it in and enjoy it!” Freedom!
So, if you believe God exists; if you would like to own a bit of dirt; if you believe family is important and that people can govern themselves, you better believe your quality of life in a red state will be a huge improvement over the quality of life you have in the blue. Next up… we’ll analyze some of the most popular ideas in blue states. Until then, may the Lord bless and keep you wherever you are!