The images of the south, the deep south that we have become indoctrinated with are of rednecks, racism, poverty, ignorance, and a way of life that most in the media would have us believe as "backward".
In fact if I asked you to visualize a small town in Alabama; you would think of those things listed and probably about twenty other things that would be categorized as less then P.C. or intellectual in nature.
The negative visions and images are the frequent display one is given when discussion about southern lifestyles and behaviors is discussed related to politico discussions of what "America" is about; and the life style of the south is often discounted as insignificant..
Interesting that some of those images are indeed accurate; but rather than placing them on the bucket half empty list; I ask you to reconsider your choice of image and think about the following things....
Huntsville and Birmingham are two of the fastest growing economies and job market cities in America. In fact, having spent time here, it is obvious that the recession has not touched this area to the depth it has in Michigan. Job postings are seen at many service areas as we walk through the thriving busy shopping center and downtown areas.
On Easter Sunday, in Michigan few if any major businesses were closed; in Alabama everything was shut down except for a few choice restaurants that opened "post worship". In fact, according to the locals, most Sunday shopping is still frowned upon..commerce on a family focus day is not a norm here..
Southern small towns in Alabama? Oh yes they exist..and they still thrive as their own small micro economic existences..One major commercial enterprise will maintain a community for generations. Think capitalism in it's purest forms..Small family owned businesses that support many other small families..
Politeness..Our 17 year old figured out that people here are just genuinely "nice". We have met so many just kind and polite people, that it gave me reassurance that social graces and rules can still exist. "where y'all from?" is the question that would seem a privacy violation to us northerners and we may respond with our hackles raised. In the south it is genuine kind question that usually follows a discussion of weather, the economy and the great things to do in their fair city or locale..
Customer service? Yeah, thinks truly are a bit slower here..That is a correct stereotype. But truly when was the last time you had your car wash done while they provide you with a glass of tea and a massage chair or bench to sit on outside and visit with other people getting their vehicle washed? Getting a coffee quickly at a starbucks..not quick like at home, but you get a "how ya''ll today?" and a "here's your coffee miss, y'all have a nice day you hear?" Unlike the not so friendly experience and eye roll I have gotten at a local coffee estab.
Perhaps instead of critical analysis of the southern states, we should take a collective look at what we can learn from them. I just hope that as "we" begin to infiltrate these areas in search of a better place to earn, live and raise our families, that we leave behind the worst of what we are; and instead adopt the best of what the south has to give us; character, values and ethics that emulate kindness, honesty and simplicity of living.