SHEENA BARNETT: The differences of differences

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

One of my favorite short stories by the brilliant Flannery O’Connor is “Good Country People.”
The mother of the main character spends much of her time in the tale talking about “good country people.”
I love that O’Connor uses that phrase so much in her story, because it’s one I’ve heard a million times growing up in the South. If you grew up sipping on sweet tea and saying “y’all,” you’ve no doubt heard it and used it, too.
But my definition of “good country people” probably isn’t your definition of “good country people,” and yours is probably different from the Next Guy’s.
I’m curious – at what point do we consider our differences to be so great that someone isn’t “good country people”? At what point do we consider someone to be different than us?
I follow enough politics to know that there are some serious differences in this world – some are trumped up, though, while others are legitmate differences that will cause the two folks to never see eye-to-eye.
But for your every day, run-of-the-mill differences, I’m not sure what makes one good country person different from another.
In high school – where differences are sometimes put under a microscope, to a painful degree – it seemed a lot of folks had certain types of friends.
“He’s my black friend.”
“She’s my lesbian friend.”
“He’s my Jewish friend.”
I never got that kind of thinking. That sort of thinking was as silly to me as saying, “She’s my green-eyed friend.”
Folks still use that kind of thinking as adults, too. Not to knock my fellow co-workers, but some of them refer to me as “the goth kid.”
That’s one part of me, sure. I listen to some metal kind of loudly, sometimes, and go to my share of rock shows. But that’s not all I am.
I’m a daughter, granddaughter, aunt, cousin and best friend, a geek, a nerd, a reporter.
I’m a Christian, a Mississippian, “the Scene Girl,” a Whedonite, a brunette, a “make-up queen,” an Ole Miss Rebel.
I’m a punk rocker, a glam kid, a country lover and pop connoisseur.
I’m a reader, collector, watcher, listener.
I’m a fan. Of a lot of things.
Does any of that make me a good country person?
Beats me.
It just makes me me.
And I hope you don’t hold any of that against me.
You may say I’m a dreamer, an idealist. The hippie in me wishes everyone would celebrate their differences rather than using them to wage an “us versus them” battle.
But, hey, that’s just me. Is it you?

Contact Daily Journal writer Sheena Barnett at 678-1580 or Also read her entertainment blog, Scene Now, at

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