By SEAN R.R. HAMMOND
West Virginia is stereotypically considered to be “uncivilized.” Its population is perceived as “rednecks”, a derogatory term used to describe an assumingly unintelligent farming or blue color lifestyle. Reality television shows such as “Duck Dynasty” and “Buckwild” have popularized the redneck way of life in recent times.
Are we students of Bethany College rednecks by proxy?
Of course not, that sounds like a ridiculous broad generalization. However, we are subject to the natural laws of this “Wild and Wonderful” place, and possibly can learn some of the fundamental principles that construct the ideology of the “redneck” life.
Lets briefly examine a way of defining life simply. Life can be described as a finite system of experience production, or even more simply the possibility of doing new and different things.
Here in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, we enjoy a small private liberal arts college of meager diversity, rich with history, held together by its dedicated student body and strong brick walls since 1840.
However, we must destroy these boundaries and pour into the Buffalo like fly fisherman in spring. There is a “Lost Boy” like rambunctiousness, an air of lawlessness, and an entire countryside of rolling hills and dense fauna for exploration. The beauty of living at Bethany College is its smallness, its remoteness, and its wilderness.
Its smallness allows us to create closer and deeper friendships while its remoteness creates an existential claustrophobic urge to consider surroundings and ourselves, to ultimately feel free and happily unrecognized. The wilderness provokes us to take courageous steps into unknown and untraveled. The “redneck” lifestyle has a base in nature, close friendship, and hard (and not so hard) work—so perhaps there is some redneck in all of us after all.