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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Goodbye to Cultures in a Common Land

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Hello, Radio Readers. I’m Jane Holwerda from Dodge City, Kansas, with the sad news that it is time to wrap up our  2021 Spring Read “Cultures in a Common Land.”  To think of the people, places, and ideas we’ve experienced by reading together since January through April is impressive.  I’ve been thumbing through the books and listening again to the Book Bytes on HPPR’s website, and I’ve recognized some personal growth, as I seem to experience, whenever I return home, after a good travel.

I mean, think about it…through the books in this spring series, we’ve been to Africa, California, Southeast Asia, and the upper North American Midwest.  We’ve explored the winds and wounds of revolution and religious dogma, communication breakdowns and medical maltreatment, the displacement and near genocide of the first peoples of the Plains.  Many of us have winced, wiggled uncomfortably in our skins, felt guilt for our parts, and empathy with the pain of those displaced, scarred, and dead. Some of us have shared deep grief and sorrow, personal and societal.    And our brave book leaders keep directing our attention to the basic issues – how can we, and when will we, find common ground with each other through our multiplicity of beliefs, practices, and tragic histories?

The works in our spring series -- The Poisonwood Bible, Spirit Touches You, and Neither Wolf nor Dog –  introduce us to ways of life very different from our own, have the potential to  inspire us, individually and collectively, to  explore and to honor an array of values and beliefs.  Back in the 1990s, when these works were first published, there were some loud voices, especially on radio and television, protesting any awareness of  multiculturism and denying its value. Some even argued their privilege to deploy racial and sexist language with neither apology nor shame.  After all, aren’t wealth and privilege the real determinants of power and influence? But that was the 1990s, some thirty years ago.  So much has changed since then, right?

That our 2021 Spring Read “Cultures in a Common Land” is wrapping up just as spring, that ineffable, temporal season, touches the High Plains, with new life spiraling greenness from the earth, strikes me as suggestively hopeful.   If we could be inspired to come together, continue to share our stories, could we figure out how to heal the wounds of intolerance, inequality and ignorance?  I think our Spring Read provides a pretty good start on birthing new ways of living with each other.

For HPPR’s Radio Readers, I’m Jane Holwerda.  Thank you for being a Radio Reader and being woke and active where you are and wherever you go.