The “Red” State

I find reading events and book signings thoroughly enjoyable activities along the winding road in ‘author world.’ Meeting like-minded folks around the bend who appreciate and share the same interest, passion and intense commitment toward protecting our environment and conserving wildlife is thrilling. However, I also find the ‘unknown factor,’ like meeting people who think nothing like me and who object adamantly to my conservation views, exciting as well, in an intriguing way. Those experiences I take on as opportunities to educate. I haven’t run into many I’ve offended, but it happens. During a book distribution stop over the holidays a man asked, “Do you know where you are?” The silent question ‘Do I NOT know where I am?’ pulsed through numerous neuronal axons, spastically hurdling synaptic gaps in the right frontal lobe of my brain, but I answered “I think so.” The tall man with the stern face towered over me as he said, “This is a ‘red’ state.” All things red immediately raced through my mind. Red Rover, Red Rover, didn’t South Carolina ask me over? How about ‘Little Red Corvette’ or ’99 Red Balloons?’ Does he not notice my red hair? I had a feeling that whatever he was about to say next was going to be less than pleasant. I braced myself with a smile and internally ordered ‘Shields UP!’ He proceeded. “We’ don’t take kindly to liberal . . . socialist . . . tree huggers heya.” I’d never describe myself as a liberal or a socialist, but I will embrace tree-hugger. He continued by saying, “Let me give you an education, little woman.” My table had been turned. He told me how my “views conflict with everything ‘we’ progressive South Carolinians are all about. If it takes trees coming down and animal habitats lost, so be it. Progress means development and vice versa.” It was odd how he believed he possessed the knowledge and right to speak for ALL South Carolinians, because I know fellow wildlife rehabilitators and friends, from my neighboring state of South Carolina, who are also actively involved in environmental issues. Guess he wasn’t aware of that. From my 65″ frame, my ears perked respectfully skyward to listen attentively to his words of aggravation. I watched his face contort in disgust and couldn’t help but think ‘he must be a developer and wants to set me straight (from his point of view, of course).’ He’s afraid my little book may influence some caring group to rally behind saving our natural resources, which could possibly result in a negative factor for his wallet. My book had crashed into a nerve; a hot nerve that became so riled the man spent valuable moments of his day explaining to me what he thought about my perspective and recommended I revisit my cause. In moments like this I always wonder how other authors handle the controversy they go on record creating. But for me . . . on that day . . . the more he talked, the more elated and powerful I felt. I wanted to jump up and down, spin and yell ‘YAHOO,’ because I knew it had happened!~! My downeast, North Carolina story had already made a difference! Still smiling, I thanked him for his opinions, shook his hand and asked if he’d like an autographed copy of my book, “Save Them All.” He said, “No.”

Linda Bergman-Althouse

2 thoughts on “The “Red” State

  1. I admire your stand and composure!!! You know you have already made a difference when there is effort by the opposition.

    Way to go!!!!

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