Small towns in the USA / by kevin murray

Occasionally you hear people complaining about how crowded the United States is, how many people that we have, and that there just isn't room enough for all of them.  Unless you are living in NYC, or have never traveled out of your community which resides in a large city, most of the United States, especially the western parts (but not the coast) are practically barren.  In fact, the density of America in peoples is 1/10th the density of Japan, 1/15th the density of South Korea, and as listed by, the 142th densest country in the world out of 192 countries.  If we take any time at all to fly, to drive, to take a train or a bus throughout America, you will see acres and acres, miles upon miles, of places that are practically devoid of human life.  While American living is primarily urban, with just 16% of Americans living in rural areas as of 2010; a percentage, by the way, which continues to drop as smaller communities age and younger residents of such communities leave for bigger urban areas, there are still, however, quite a few small towns in America.


I've driven through small towns and communities, visited small towns and communities, and walked around and stayed in small towns and communities, to which fairly quickly one is able to discern that they aren't the same as large metropolitan areas.  While small towns come in all sorts of varieties, such as towns that survive on needed outside tourist dollars, towns that are strictly agricultural or livestock, or towns that have one large manufacturing plant, each small town seems to have its similarities.  For instance, small towns aren't a good place to be anonymous because they do want to know your personal business, there is a distinct hierarchy in towns, tradition also plays a big part in small towns, and seemingly minority opinions about virtually anything aren't readily accepted in towns.


While there is a lot of good that can be said about small towns taking a personal interest in you, lending you a helping hand, and desiring to make you a part of the town mindset and principles, there is the other aspect of group pressure to conform to community standards.  After all, no man is an island, and small towns will quickly make this inherent fact known to you, so unless you are very skilled and capable of providing all that you need on your own, you will often find yourself instead forced into situations to which your best interests lie in simply adhering to the expectations and hallmarks of your community standards.


For those that have live in small communities for all of their life, there is something to be said, about knowing that you need not worry about being misidentified, railroaded on false charges, or treated in a manner that is not consistent to your bearing within the community.  Those aspects are very positive to which too much of urban life consists of bogus laws, rules, and infractions, which are basically used as a way to augment budgets or to keep certain denizens under the thumb of the powerful and connected.  Therefore, it can be a very welcoming experience to be in a place where you are truly known by your name and by your reputation and thereby feel more part of the fiber and being of said community.


Small towns at their best can be a welcomed sanctuary, a good fit for some, not so much for others, and often a throwback to simpler times and ways where character really matters.