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Is It Good to Be a Hoosier?

These were some of the question before us last night when the Indiana Historical Society hosted an IndyTalks program entitled "Is It Good to be a Hoosier?" (IndyTalks, btw, is a collaboration dedicated to fostering a sense of community through respectful and creative civic dialogue. Go to www.indytalks.info to learn more.)

Historian James Madison opened up the program by stressing his belief that change in Indiana has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. However, whether Indiana likes it or not, revolutionary change is coming (has arrived?) in the form of globalization.

So, in this era of unprecedented global change, is it good to be a Hoosier? Do our traditions and traits serve us well or have they created an attitude of “good enough is good enough?” Can history help us understand ourselves and think creatively about the future? (Personal answers: yes; sometimes; yes!!!)

As much as I’d like to say we solved Indiana’s problems last night, we didn’t. But the group did enjoy a provocative conversation with one another. And really, that was the goal of the program. Through the IndyTalks initiative, IHS is using history to bring people together to respectfully discuss tough but important issues – issues without easy answers and issues that reveal a wide array of attitudes and perspectives.

At your next family gathering or night out with friends, discuss whether you think it is good to be a Hoosier. Everyone will have different perspectives on the sample questions below, but we can learn a lot from each other if we respect those perspectives, use the past to understand why different attitudes and viewpoints exist, and then just listen.

  • When you hear the word “Hoosier,” what is the first image that pops into your mind?
  • What is your definition of a “Hoosier?” Is the term even relevant?
  • Is “good enough is good enough” a typical Hoosier attitude?
  • Is self-deprecation a Hoosier trait? Does “Aw, shucks” modesty hurt or help Indiana?
  • Who is building Indiana’s 21st century communities? How important is diversity in an era of globalization?

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