by State Rep. Randy Armstrong
There seems to be an unnatural level of anger in our country.
“I hate him!” “She is an evil person!” “How could you be so stupid as to not understand my position?” “Are you really so naïve as to not see what’s happening?” There are septic tanks full of vitriol.
As I listen to this rabid screeching from nearly everyone, I wonder: Is this powerful indignation productive? I’ve been wildly angry a few times in my past and I can’t recall that it ever resulted in anything productive. Are we so far along in hate that we can’t turn down the rhetoric and turn up the empathy?
I had a cow some years back who was a reprobate. She would never stay inside the fences. I had those barriers so tight that a snake would have difficulty getting out. But just as humans are endowed with particular talents; so to with cows. She was an Olympic level contortionist. Nothing could keep her in. That, coupled with the fact that my neighbor had a lusty bull and my cow was rather promiscuous, there was no holding her back. Every morning she was gone.
One morning I got on my ATV to bring her home — again. As I drove up, I noticed a petulant air about her and an arrogant smirk on her face as she stared stupidly at me. It made me mad. I was going to teach her a lesson. She saw my maniacal look and started to run. We were both going full speed and I swerved into her side. She fell with legs, tail and snout flying in every direction (now before you PETA folks call the authorities, please finish reading. She herself was a charter member of CETAH: Cows Experiencing Talion Against Humans). After a couple of rolls she got up on a dead run. I got in a couple more glancing blows but she was a quick learner. When I zagged, she would zig. When she zigged, I was zagging. Anger and hatred filled my mind and blurred my perception. I was so focused on teaching her a lesson that I lost track of my bearings.
At top speed, with me right on her heels, she made an immediate sharp swerve to the right. Why? I looked up and there was a drop-off in front of me. Not a huge one, only about ten feet high. I hit the brakes, but unfortunately only the front brakes; which creates the motion of a stinkbug; your front goes down and your rear lifts way up. I was in this attitude as I went airborne. The machine continued this backward arch until we hit the ground. I landed first, and then the ATV on top of me.
I was stunned. It took me a moment to take inventory because the pain was so intense. My face was in deep dust which prohibited my breathing. I pushed the ATV off and to the side with my legs, but that caused more pain. Where? My shoulder, and it was screaming. I didn’t think I could stand up, but I knew no one was coming so I carefully stood. I staggered my way home. No one was there and I was covered in dust and fresh cow manure. I agonizingly got my clothes off and then remembered that my wife was in the garden working. The garden is down by the creek, about 60 feet below my house and 150 yards back. I desperately made my way out to the deck and called her name, but had difficulty getting a full breathe because of the phantom javelin in my side.
She finally heard me and looked up. There was her naked husband standing on the deck calling her name. She didn’t know whether it was a plea for help or a call to romance.
She eventually got me to the hospital, where I had surgery for a broken shoulder. During this entire time my promiscuous, contortionist cow was contentedly chewing my neighbor’s alfalfa.
My cow didn’t know, or really care, about how angry I was. The bursting emotion was lost on her. And the same is true for all of those national political issues and characters we so stridently follow. Of course we should care. We all should be passionately involved. But the intense anger and hatred is misplaced. Understanding and empathy are much more productive emotions. We are so focused on hate that we lose our bearings.
All the while Washington quietly munches our alfalfa as we invite crippling angst.
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