REFLECTIONS • BY FAITH L. WYLIE, Co-publisher
I suffered culture shock when I moved to Oologah—a town of 800 people—from the Kansas City suburbs. People talked to me in the grocery store and at the cafés. Whether I had met them or not.
Why are they so rude? Doesn’t anyone have any privacy? Those were my big questions.
I quickly learned the answers.
First, being friendly is not rude in an exurban community like Northwest Rogers County. Friendliness is the norm.
Second, no, you don’t have much privacy. People see your car at the doctor’s office or pharmacy. “Are you feeling okay?” is a common reaction. If you run out of milk and go to the convenience store in your pajamas, folks will know.
Our community has been through challenges and crises. We’ve had disagreements and embarrassing moments. And we’ve always come through.
President John F. Kennedy popularized a quotation about crisis:
“When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”
I was so proud of the way our community responded after the 1991 tornado and the meningitis outbreak. People put aside differences and worked together for the community.
I’m also proud of the work the Chamber has done through the years. John and I came in as young outsiders. We and other young business owners were welcomed and encouraged as we tackled the problems of an antiquated phone system and killer bridges on old Highway 169.
Volunteers have revitalized historic downtown Oologah and preserved our history.
And we have lots to be proud of: our sports teams, band, FFA and speech students are outstanding. Our churches feed the hungry and welcome others into the community of God.
Our community faces another opportunity as us old timers strive to finish our goals and a new generation steps forward into leadership roles.
We face a critical point. We can talk to each other, or we can fight.
We can welcome the energy and ideas from the younger generation and respect the dedication and service of the older generation. Or we can throw verbal bricks at each other.
The future is here. Diverse interests can work together as a team, albeit rather noisy and raucous.
Or our community can be a loser. And stop saying, “Hello,” in the local cafés.