I come from a deeply contradictory place. Although I mostly grew up in a small village called West Montrose (our famous covered bridge is to the right), the "big town" nearby was Elmira.
Elmira is an interesting town. It's one of the few places where you can still see Old Order Mennonites drive their horse and buggies down the street every day. The picture to the right is a pretty common sight during the summer.
It is, as you can imagine, a very conservative town where family values are king. Life is respected, community is valued, and during the wars, conscientious objectors were in almost family. Mennonites are pacifists, you see.
Elmira is home to the world's largest maple syrup festival, a gorgeous cultural heritage, and a chemical plant that produced Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.
This town of pacifists has been featured in a recent story by the Globe and Mail. The story talks about the legacy of birth defects and cancers the defoliant left through Vietnam and North America.
I have difficulty understanding this town and trying to relate to it. I respect the community that people try to build here. I understand the struggle between clinging to tradition and the drive towards progress. But I find the contradictions so very difficult.
A complicated kindness indeed.