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Stuck 04 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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As users of WordPress know, when you make a blog, it automatically sets up an “About” page for you.  So I put a throwaway line up there that very briefly describes my situation:

I’m a scientist stuck in the Bible Belt, with many opinions that don’t go over very well here.

A commenter, Duke Wankins (and I hope for his sake that’s a pseudonym), takes issue with my statement:

“I’m a scientist stuck in the Bible Belt…”

It’s interesting I think, how people are always “stuck” somwhere they don’t like. As if an invisible force makes them stay. I witnessed this a lot during my stay in the US Navy (at half a dozen duty stations; SC., TN., MISS. and CA.). Amazing as it was, there was always some one who would claim they were “stuck” at a particular base, and of course where they came from was a paradise. If you don’t like the “Bible Belt”, why don’t you leave? If your “opinions” don’t go over very well , why don’t you shut-up about it? Do you just feal [sic] some urge to let people know what you think? I also live in the Bible Belt, and I get a lot of flak for listening to classical mucic [sic], being a vegatarian [sic], and a non-smoker, hunter and drinker. BUT, I love it here and do so by my own free will. I am not stuck here and can leave anytime I wish. SO can you.

-Duke Wankins

Okay Duke, point made.  I am not stuck here in the literal sense of the word.  But the beauty of colloquial English is that certain words and phrases have shades of meaning that, while not adhering to the literal definition, allow one to convey certain information in a more economical way.  So when I use the word “stuck”, most people can figure out that what I’m really trying to say is “due to a number of factors, it is in my best interest to remain in my present situation, even if it is not optimal”.  That’s quite a mouthful, which is why it is often useful, especially in conversation, to just use the word “stuck” and be done with it.  I have a feeling that even you, Duke, knew what I was trying to convey by using the word “stuck”.

And “stuck” is not the only phrase we use as a shorthand.  Consider the phrase “have to”, as in “I have to go to work”, “I have to clean the house”, or “I have to do my homework”.  Strictly speaking, nobody has to do any of these things.  It’s just a way of saying “given the consequences, it is in my best interest to…”.  So would you shun the phrase “have to” as well, as people generally do not use the phrase literally?

As for my opinions, I generally keep them to myself in normal discourse, unless specifically asked about them.  So, in a sense, I usually do “shut-up” about them.  But this is my  blog, and I use it as an outlet to talk about things that are on my mind without fear of reprisal.  The only urge I feel is to get things off my chest, and this blog is an excellent venue to do so.  I’m not foisting my opinions on those around me – blog readers are not a captive audience.  They are free to click away if they’re not interested in what I have to say.

Have a happy Independence Day, and be sure to take some time to enjoy the fact that not only are you not truly “stuck”, you also live in a country with a wonderfully nuanced language.

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Comments»

1. Duke Wankins - 04 Jul 2008

Jessa,

Good points, I agree with you about 99%. Of course, I would agree that you didn’t mean you were literally stuck, because, as a scientist, I would expect you to be smarter than that.
I think probably what upset me was your use of the term “Bible Belt”. As you used it, I thought maybe it was intended as a put-down. In the same sense that some native Southerners use the terms “Yankeee” and “up North”. Both are used as put-downs. Having traveled widely, I can honestly say that I’ve met wonderful people from one end of this country to the other (my best man in my wedding is a native of Iowa).
It’s true of course, that the Bible-Belt, and the South overall have problems; so does New York, Minnesota and California. There are a lot of things I love about the South and some things I don’t. I love the mild winters and not so much the harsh summers. A lot of the people here are friendly, some not so much.
When I was stationed at NAS Lemoore, California (near Fresno), I was struck by how nice the people were and the beauty of the landscape, but then again having been born and raised on a small farm in SC, it was only natrual that I would like it.
Thanks for your kind reply, the internet would be a lot more enjoyable with people like you.

-Duke

2. Jessa - 04 Jul 2008

I’m glad that clears things up. Thanks for stopping by to share your views.


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