I was surfing channels on cable yesterday and I came upon a movie called Lebanon, Pa. Now, I was born and raised in Lancaster County, PA so of course I turned the television to this channel just to see what it was about. Two hours later I got up from the recliner and spent the rest of the day with this movie in the back of my mind nagging away at me. You know – like a little pebble in your shoe that kind of rubs on you all day.
The photography of the Lancaster County countryside made me a little homesick, but the story made me understand why I left and why I could never go back and live there. It left me feeling sad and yet happy at the same time. Not sure how that’s possible – but those were my emotions.
The story was about a young man who was living and working in Philadelphia who went back to Lebanon to bury his Father. He forms this friendship with his younger cousin who is 17 and pregnant. The young girl is faced with many decisions most of which have already been made for her. The priest, her father, the boys father have all decided that the kids will marry and raise the baby with help from everyone who surrounds them. The young girl however, is thinking that having an abortion is what her choice would be. There is much more to the movie, however, the focus for me was how this young girl was treated by her father, friends, and much of the town for her choice.
When her cousin from Philadelphia came into town to bury his father he did so driving a VW with a pro-choice sticker on the back. Immediately, he was not one of the townspeople. He also fell in love and had an affair with a married schoolteacher so the guy was doomed from the start. He was sitting in a bar and he asked the bartender if he thought he could live in Lebanon. the bartender told him no. The guy asked why, and the bartender told him he just didn’t fit in. His ideas were different – the pro-choice sticker – he was different, he would never fit in.
And there in a nutshell is my life in Lancaster County, PA. I could never live there again – I just don’t fit in. There is a cultural divide in America. It divides cities and towns and sadly it divides families. In the movie the young girl chose to have an abortion, and her father turned his back on her. Never spoke to her again. Sadly, this happens more than we might ever know.
Abortion, homosexuality, religion, intolerance, racism, bigotry – this is what divides us. This is what makes people pack up and leave a place where they were born and raised as was their family before them and their family before them. Sometimes we leave because we want to but more often than not – we leave because we just don’t fit in and we just can’t abide living a lie or living someone else’s vision of what out life should be.
I have no regrets from walking away and I certainly have no regrets living a life that’s open and truthful. I guess I’ll never understand why people can’t or won’t open their minds and their hearts to the differences that make America so great. How boring it would be if we all believed the same thing, dressed the same way, lived in the same house, went to the same church, ate the same food.
Not everyone will do what you want them to do – and why would they?