I don’t do this very often on the blog and if you want to leave now, I understand. You know how every now and then life seems to be chugging along just fine and all of sudden you feel like things are off the rails? Well, it happened to me on our drive back from North Dakota.
While we were in North Dakota hunting last weekend I had an interesting conversation with a lady (around my age) who was a retired teacher. She had grown up in North Dakota under less then perfect conditions. A large farm family with daily chores, relatively isolated homestead, no running water until she graduated from high school, etc. We compared life experiences and both agreed while we may not choose to go through it all again, it certainly helped shape who we became. The difficulties we may have encountered when we were kids weren’t really looked at as ‘difficulties’ at the time. It was just the way things were.
As I sat eating supper at the banquet I thought about the fact that the family sponsoring this event had lost a family member in a hunting accident. Yet hear we sat, eating supper and getting ready to head out hunting ourselves the next morning. Why hadn’t the family curled up in a ball of misery and became anti-gun, anti-hunting zealots? I certainly could understand if they had. Instead they chose to turn a tragic event into a happy event and celebrate their sons life raising scholarship money for local students in his name. That my friends takes courage.
The retired teacher I mentioned earlier was a member of the family (and also a winner of one of the gun raffles). She and I both agreed that people who don’t hunt, don’t understand the experience. The banquet that night was the best part of the hunt. Sharing stories and conversations with other hunters was interesting and entertaining. But being in the field with friends and family gave us time together that non-hunters can’t appreciate. Joking about missed shots. Laughing at the new pair of $100 hunting pants getting torn on the barbed wire. Explaining why you can’t hit the broad side of the barn with that $1000 shotgun. Watching the dogs do what hunting dogs love to do. Hunt. That’s what hunting is really about.
That evening, our hunting team was sitting in the lobby of the motel we were staying at and I came to a rather startling revelation. There were people walking in and out of the lobby carrying gun cases and making no attempt to conceal the fact! Hell, there were even DOGS (some of them were really big) walking in the automatic doors with their hunting partners. UNLEASHED! (Including one of our own dogs.) And no one seemed to notice either situation or care for that matter. I can’t help but wonder how many 911 calls that would have triggered in New York, Chicago or even Minneapolis. There were no shootings that night, armed robberies or any other forms of gun violence in that motel. In fact, it would have taken a lot of courage to try and cause any type of mayhem with that many armed folks around.
What really took me off the rails was the conversation and news on the way home. The news had stories of calls for stricter gun laws or even confiscation (aka: buybacks). Someone even said we need to get more government involvement in our lives to get our lives back? (Not sure how that works as it seems government is a big part of the problem with MY life) Attempts to buy our votes with free medical care, healthcare for everyone citizens and non, free college for everyone, student loan forgiveness, guaranteed jobs paying $50/hr and everyone trying to ‘out give‘ everyone else. Hell, I want a pony and until then, none of you get my vote!!!
The only thing that really got me back on track was the event we were just at. We sat at a banquet raising money for student scholarships not lobbying for free college. Guns were raffled off and I’d bet not one of them will get used to shoot up a neighborhood. A good share of these folks are ranchers that bust their backs to keep things together in good times and bad (and smile while doing it). There were a large number of people involved in the oil industry that work damned hard in tougher conditions then I want to work in. None of the people I talked to that nite were complaining about getting more ‘stuff’ from the government.
It’s taken me a few days to settle down and put everything back in perspective. While I worry about the direction this country is heading sometimes, I still have hope. Today’s news tends to be filled with opinions and attitudes from the east and west coast, corporate boardrooms and tall buildings with low oxygen levels. In the middle of the country where I live (with the exception of the ‘metropolitan‘ area) there’s still a sense of self worth and pride. If we fall down and scrape a knee, we don’t need someone to pick us up and hold our hand. If times are tough financially we find a way to get by without asking for a handout. We don’t feel we’re owed or deserve something just because we’re here.
I didn’t have a particularly tough life growing up. My family certainly wasn’t privileged but we didn’t ask for help. In some respects you might say I’ve been lucky but 95% of the time you make your own luck. And there are very few things I’ve been given that I appreciate more then the things I really worked for.
If only people would regain some self worth and pride. It almost brings me to tears when I hear the crowds at these political rally’s cheering at the mention of them ‘deserving‘ and having a ‘right‘ to FREE (fill in the blank). I’ve got a whole lot more respect for the guy working at the car-wash then the one on the corner begging for gas money.
Thanks for listening. I think I’ve got things back on track…… for now anyway.