Yesterday I visited a small town Marshall and saw a beautiful farmers market and took a break to have a nice chicken rice soup(it was good). A nice lady in her late 50s invited me to sit across the table, and we started discussing. She was born and raised in the town, and she loves the place. Being raised as a millennial, he teenage(19th now) son likes all modern things the life had to offer. But by heart, he loves to raise cattle and been doing his younger age. He trades livestock an enjoys doing it.
She and her son love this small town and to live in the countryside and not want to be like other people in the town who commutes every day to Washington DC by road to make money. This is the fate of many people; either they give up the life they love and move to the city because of financial pressure or continue to have a horrible commute every day.
This is the story of not one person; many people in the USA. I started sharing my views and experiences I had in Europe, traveling to deeper towns and villages. I asked her, won’t it be nice if a commuter train(s) comes every day pick up the folks from Marshall to the City to work and bring them back so that they don’t have to compromise anything in their life? Of course, she loved it; but like you guys she as skeptical about making it happen. She also told me that many people are not comfortable setting stuck by the train after 911 experience. Now, this triggered the discussion and view that how people are conditioning their mind and becoming enslaved to a situation.
Americans were the first to create massive rail systems in the world; but why they left it underdeveloped while Europeans took it far along with other forms of public transports. There are many theories to explain it, but my viewpoint is Europeans never compromised the conservative life or never let the urban development go much larger than the rural. While they allowed the car companies to flourish, they did not allow them to monopolize the public transportation. The major reason is; they wanted the massive infrastructure connectivity to the rural areas which are the foundation of economic integration. They understood and respected the need, quality if life and lifestyle of every citizen. The did not differentiate or make fund of people choose to live in mountain or smaller towns. They did not call them deplorable; they did not push them to move to the city for economic growth. Rather they focused on bringing the development to their towns.
I was surprised to see in Germany and Switzerland, the trains going to almost all small towns to pick up the commuters miles and miles. Especially Switzerland cities becoming hellholes due to the development and luckily because of the conservative movements and their infrastructure, to a greater extent they can maintain the balance. Of course, it takes not just the political representation but also from the people. Those countries subsidize a lot for the cost of the commute. But it works. People should decide and say, enough is enough. I am not going to accept things as told to me; i am going to take the things needed for my life and my children’s life to be better. Sometimes; if you let only capitalize on playing; you will never going to get basic needs because your numbers don’t add up for larger corporations. For example, i still don’t get AT&T signal in many small towns in Virginia when I travel. The people living in the mountains, why would you accept that certain things are not going to reach you? If the goods & services of the best quality can reach smallest of the smallest towns and villages in Germany, why an American should accept it as reality?
My discussion with the nice lady had to stop when I left, but I am sure I created some impact on her, and I hope she takes it to other people and so one day; Marshall will get its own smaller commuter train coming to its doorstep. And i wanted entire Blueridge mountain from Virginia to North Carolina to have a beautiful train system so that the millions of people living there are not forced use the only road or left behind not able to get the basis opportunity they deserve. I always believed and will continue to think that basic intelligence can come from anywhere. It needs to be nourished and encouraged through opening the doors of opportunity. If doors are opened for inner city and small-town citizens; they will create a lot more innovations and be part of the entire economic growth as front liners, without having to leave their beautiful hometown and their lifestyle.
I hope you guys like the article and I believe it could be a small catalyst. Comments and discussions welcome!
– Suresh M Kannan