There’s a difference in rural versus urban. I grew up in Sioux City - and it was urban (by Iowa’s standards). Because I grew up in the city, I didn’t do farm stuff, I wasn’t part of 4-H … I don’t get “fairs.” My school’s enrollment was about 1500 students … it was different from what I’ve lived for the past 3 decades.
I asked my dad once about his church in Sioux City. He said that his church also served as his “community” - his friends were there and that is where he found his village. Because of this, the idea or concept of a village to me has a bigger, deeper meaning.
When I came to the small communities - I saw and felt something different than I saw growing up. I think growing up in the city was awesome … but it was dependent upon where you found your village. Unless you have a church or something to bind you to others (club, VFW, etc.), you probably didn’t run into or see the same people often. Quint Studer - a service guru and a person I hold in high regard - used to talk about small hospitals. He’d say that in the big Chicago hospitals he used to work at - if someone got let go (fired) he’d never see them again. In a small town, you see them at the grocery store, the football game, the pew over at church … it’s a lot harder, he’d say.
Like it or not - we are in this together. Our small communities both define us and protect us. When I look back and remember how I regarded Sioux City and now Des Moines - I’m happy to get new restaurants/businesses/hospitals/parks, but I don’t remember giving my input. I don’t think that my opinion really mattered or matters in the big city as to what the future for it looks like. Not so in the small town. Same with raising families - our smaller communities collectively nurture and grow our future.
“Rural” is caring. “Rural” is community. “Rural” life sometimes doesn’t ask for participation - it demands it and, even though it may look and feel like an intrusion, we are better for it. The concern is genuine and pure, and I thank God for it everyday.