WHAT LEXINGTON NEEDS, by Amy Thompson and Donna Mattscheck
photo by M. Watt
July 1994 Ace
We’re departing Lexington after living here virtually all our lives. It’s likely that our clearest perspective of what our hometown needs will be in retrospect. Living over five hundred miles away will undoubtedly afford us the opportunity to reflect and understand it better. However, one idea does spring to mind as we set out for the great uncharted corn fields of Iowa.
What we see that Lexington needs isn’t something that can be found in mini-malls or new masses of concrete erected downtown or planted in the suburbs. We fell it is not a matter of what Lexington needs, but rather more what people need out of Lexington. The place in which we live defines the parameters of our personal growth, collectively and individually.
Lexington’s rich history has been mythologized to the point that it ultimately limits our perspective. We’ve come to appreciate merely the symbols of those valued tradition. Anything beyond blue button-downs and khakis is “other” to us. Here, conformity is not only the norm, but the celebrated. This homogeneity in appearance and perception has brought our community essentially to a spiritual vast diversity – diversity that is too often treated as novelty or token.
There is a wealth of cultural enrichment available due to the proximity of the University of Kentucky and Toyota, but rather than welcoming this valuable endowment to our society, our citizens commonly see it only in terms of differences; and differences have come to mean obstacles and inconveniences.
Other minority segments of our society – Jewish, Gay/Lesbian, and African-American – have several events and holidays that could potentially serve to educate and enlighten if they were only recognized. How can we recognize them if we don’t even acknowledge that they exist? For the most part, communities depend upon the media and accurately reflect their varied constituencies. Unfortunately, the Lexington media, by and large, are not willing to fulfill this obligation.
This makes it imperative that we personally assume the responsibility for being aware of our communal diversity and exploring it with an open mind. Obviously, merely attending a cultural festival or tasting international foods does not provide us sufficient information to wholly understand any group. In order to appreciate the “other” fully, we must be willing to become involved with the people – people who think, feel and look different from what is now recognized as the traditional model. Only when this happens, will we grow as human beings, and only then can we serve to benefit Lexington as a whole.
Donna Mattshcek, D.M.D., is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. She returned to UK this past year as a fellow int eh orofacial pain department. She will be attending the University of Iowa this fall where she will pursue a certificate in endodontics. Amy Thompson is a self-employed designer and international marketer of specialty apparel.