As I’ve lived gratefully in Kansas for 32 years and traveled extensively throughout my career, after growing up in New York City and Vietnam, it’s become clear to me that Kansas and Kansans are different — and it’s better to be in Kansas.
I am not intimating that we are better or think we are better than anyone else. I am suggesting our pace, calmness, sense of thoughtfulness, and tolerance for others bring to us a more relaxed and more pleasant lifestyle than other places. I believe it is easier in Kansas to cope with the changes and unraveling that propel us through this century of greater world balance.
I enjoy being somewhat cloistered in Kansas, far away from the “shock and awe” of being the first to experience anything. During the uncertainties of economic and social change, Kansas gives me the time to reflect and think for myself.
Even in times of stress and want, Kansans are more tolerant of others. Judgmental? Sure, that’s human. But not so loud and openly critical of others.
Many Kansans come from towns that boasted 40 high school graduates in last year’s class. Most learned how to work and play well with others, or they ran out of friends quickly in a small town or neighborhood.
I graduated 1,699th in a class of 1,723. In New York City, we learned how to burn the bridge. There was another bridge to walk over in just a few minutes.
Why are we — you and I — here and why do we stay? It’s not the beachfront properties, the skiing or the vast mountain timberlands that keep us entertained. It’s the people we live next door to, the people we work with, the people who wait on us in the stores, serve with us on volunteer boards and committees, the people we see at ballgames and church.
Not many Kansans jump traffic lanes when traffic is backed up or jump ahead of others while standing in front of the grocery deli counter. We just don’t do that.
We enjoy allowing others to enter a crowded doorway first, and we smile and nod a brief “hello” to people we don’t know when walking through a parking lot. If you don’t, too bad; you’re missing out.