“Human freedom is not freedom from conditions,
but freedom to take a stand and to face whatever conditions
might confront [us]” ~ Viktor Frankl
Remember the nomadic Giusepi Spadafora, the Tea Man? Instead of going west last fall, it turns out, the Tea Man and Edna Lu (the traveling Tea Bus) went south. You can read a detailed account of what he has been up to the last few months on his blog.
Apparently, his experience was mixed. Giusepi had been continually warned about the dangers of traveling in the southern states of America. In general, what he actually encountered was a pronounced level of hospitality—southern hospitality as the phrase suggests. Of course, such did not describe the entire experience.
The rest of the country has something to learn from The South. The depth of immediate connection can be great here when people are willing (and don’t see you as a threat)…. I finish my tour through The South wishing that more of the country was like the people here in regards to hospitality, but I’m worried that the hostility is the other side of the same coin, and that they come together. ~The Tea Man
Giusepi recounts many heart-warming stories peppered with a couple bone-chilling scenes driven by self-proclaimed “rednecks”—troublemakers who insisted on disrupting what would have been a congenial gathering of sharing individuals. Still, even these more aggressive fellows revealed a human tenderness beneath their drunken, rambunctious, politically conservative exterior.
Casting the First Stone
When mention of the Tea Man has appeared on this site previously, the posts have always remained in the spirit of celebration, a testimonial about one of us “getting it right”. Yet picking up on Giusepi’s south-land experience, we have to share his query regarding fear. Why do we—and make no mistake, this is not unique to Southern folks—why do we insist on casting our doubts about ourselves and despair about our own lives onto others? Why do we so readily forfeit our freedom in exchange for insularity—the kind of myopic resistance to things different, to people we define as no “us”, to immigrants, foreigners and to “those others”? Maintaining a strong sense of “Them”—regardless how we define the concept—binds us, curtailing the freedom we say we want. Are we truly free, particularly free to resume the childhood innocence that condemns no one but instead reaches out in curiosity to explore the wonders of shared experience?
These are heavy questions for another time. This site will explore such questions and other similar issues in the near future. For now, please read through the Tea Man’s accounts. Always enjoyable, with wit and insight, even in his writing, he continues to gift us with is labors.