By Karl Arnold Belser
30 May 2015

I am part of the Committee to Promote square Dancing (CPSD). Our mission as a 501(C)(3) non-profit is to promote square dancing anywhere possible. To this end my significant other Jackie and I along with two friends, Sue and Jed, took a road trip to the 2015 Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transvestite (LGBT) National Square Dance Convention in Saint Louis, MO. The LGBT community has a strong interest in square dancing and is significantly younger than the average straight dancer because they are generally not raising children. Straight dancers usually start to square dance when their children leave home.

We flew to Houston and went to visit friends in Livingston and Dallas, on to Little rock to see the Clinton Library, on to Branson to see some country music shows, ending in Saint Louis for the convention. This trip took us through a  conservative part of the United States that is one of the subcultures that I wand to discuss.

The first subculture is that of the San Francisco Bay Area of which I am a part. There is great religious, cultural, and racial diversity. Asians, Indians, Mexicans, Muslims, Europeans, blacks and indigenous white people all easily mix without much tension. Further religion is not a particularly important part of many people's lives. In fact I would guess that the social capital associated with churches and fraternal clubs is not strong here. I like this diversity, but regret the feeling of not being part of a strong community.

The second subculture is that of the black communities like those near saint Louis, namely Ferguson. I have written about this and other black communities with the observation that the black community has not taken it upon themselves to clean up their society. There seems to be a persistent attempt to blame public policy or the police for the actions of a small criminal segment of the black community.  See my Posts Civil Unrest and Unemployment and Civil Unrest and Non-Lethal Weapons.

The third segment is that of the gay community as represented BY the LGBT square dance convention. This group of people is very friendly and accepting. Even though I am straight, I felt that I was part of an extended family. I actually think that the straight community as represented by the National Square Dance Convention could learn a great deal about friendliness and acceptance from the gay community. I see the LGBT community as a strong contributor to American society.

Lastly, I was surprised by the spiritual nature and patriotic thinking of the people from Texas to Missouri. I attended a choir concert by 6th, 7th and 8th graders in Midlothian Texas that astonished me. This public school had strong messages of spiritual behavior in making a difference in life, of patriotically serving the US even if one might die doing it, and of the traditional roles of men and women as opposed to the feminist push in California. The shows in Branson were similar. The town closed its doors a 10 Pm, and every show had patriotic and spiritual parts. Even though I am not particularly religious I felt a strong sense of community in Texas and the Ozarks. I can understand why many conservative politicians might advocate that everyone should have such feelings.

I realized that I personally have a craving to belong to something bigger and this is probably why I am promoting square dancing as a secular way to promote social interaction and belonging.
Last updated August 2, 2015
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