Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ranchers and Veterans Day

I've needed a lazy morning for awhile.  It seems like it has been go, go, go forever. 

My job sometimes causes me to work on the weekends -- this one is an example -- and my own projects keep me going when there is spare time -- whether at home or on the road.  This morning I don't have to be at the Trade Show until 11:00 so I slept late and now I'm sitting at the computer (must be an addiction).

It seems that when I have a little spare time I also have the urge to write.  Often it is just meandering thoughts strung together, but occasionally I have something on my mind that needs to be given wing -- such as the previous post on the election.  Today, I am just wandering with no clear direction.

I always enjoy the WRCA's World Championship Rodeo in Amarillo.  That's why I'm here.  We have a booth and are a sponsor.  It is refreshing to see the ranch families who are there not only to compete but to "come to town" for what is for many of them, an annual vacation.  In many ways it is like a giant family reunion.

One thing I kept noticing yesterday was all of the children.  It seemed like there was an endless line of baby strollers and little kids walking through in their hats and boots.  Young families together with joy on their faces.  I didn't see an iPod or computer game in any of their hands.  I saw simple toys that required imagination.  I saw happy faces filled with excitement.  It made me proud to be a part of the ranching community.

These are people who make their living from the land.  They care deeply about their environment and the livestock in their care.  They live simply and work hard.  They are one of the reasons that this country is still a land of plenty.  Many of the ranches where they live have been in business well over 100 years.  That's sustainability.  These are just some of the people who produce the food we eat.....and not only us -- they feed the world.  I appreciate them.

I also saw a number of Veterans scattered through the crowd.  Some carried the scars of their service.  Others I'm sure had scars that weren't visible to the eye.  Today, on Veterans Day, we need to remember those who have served to keep us free.

Ranchers and Veterans have a lot in common.  Both are willing to fight for this country and to take care of each other and to give rather than take.  The WRCA Foundation was organized to help those in need.  If you get a chance, follow the link and read about what they do.

Well, I guess my wandering thoughts found a path after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Reflections

On November the 29th of 2011, I posted my election prediction.  You can see it here.

Sometimes you just hate to be right.

Although my call of the race was correct, perhaps my reasoning was a bit off.  I've been giving thought since about 9:30 Tuesday night about the outcome.  I know, 9:30 was before the race was called, yet it was increasingly clear the likely outcome.  Even before that Sarah Palin gave an emotional commentary that reflected my feelings as well.

It would be easy to rant about the election.  I will hopefully avoid that.  But why, I continue to ask myself, is the American public so clearly deceived by what is going on in Washington?  Maybe the answer is that they are not.

Our country seems more clearly divided than at any time in our history except perhaps the period around the War Between the States -- or should I call it the Civil War or, even yet, the War of Northern Aggression.  The words we choose to convey our message can be divisive.  Today, persons at all points on the political spectrum -- either "left" or "right" -- are using very divisive language.  That language in itself further divides when what we need is civil discourse that draws us toward common ground and practical solutions for the issues that our country faces.

I think our society has taught us to use divisive language.  It has not been done overtly or purposefully, but it is symptomatic of the "culture of self" which has become pervasive.  Every message on television subtly (or not so subtly) points to the thought, "What's in it for me?"  It is that very attitude that erodes the moral fabric of our society.  After all, what is civilization?  It is coming together for the common good.  Other related words come to mind, such as civility -- being aware of others needs, or civics -- the study of citizenship, its rights and duties which leads us ultimately to citizenship -- which denotes both obligation to others and the privileges of belonging to those in whom resides the power of governance.

As we have become a society composed of individuals focused on self we have lost civility and lost the impetus for seeking common ground. 

So, how does such an attitude of incivility -- or this "culture of self" -- explain the election results?  The election is merely symptomatic of the prevailing cultural bias to look only to one's own needs without thought to consequences to others -- whether it be the unborn, our grandchildren, our neighbor or strangers and aliens. 

The "culture of self" also erodes our ability to think critically about the messages we are hearing.  People stop listening when they hear the words they want to hear.  (For an interesting perspective there are some great verses in the book of Proverbs about honey to the ear, etc.)  There is a failure to reason through the message to the consequences of behavior.  In my mind, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is a perfect example -- not for the result, but for the messaging which led to the result.  Proponents of the measure touted legalization as a way to increase school funding.  Is there not something fundamentally wrong with connecting marijuana to our school children?  In my mind there is.

Ultimately, the "culture of self" will lead to the fragmentation of society.  We are quickly moving in that direction.  Until we change our culture we will not change our direction.  We must reinstate the value of seeking the common good into our thought processes or the "change" will only accelerate.

Just my thoughts.....