Where do I stand?

Someone commented on a Facebook post today that she wasn’t really sure if she ever really knows where I stand on the issues I tend to discuss on Facebook and elsewhere. The fact is that I’m not trying to be vague or mysterious, though I do like provoking people to think.

No, instead, I think my views are complex and they’re mine and I’m unafraid to dig into the nuances of why I think the way that I do. Every single one of us cannot help but be the result of the collection of our unique experience in life. Even people who have traveled similar paths travel them differently, and the result is different views of the world.

I cannot emphasize this point enough: my views seem vague because they are uniquely mine. They’re derived  from an informed and rational opinion created by decades of observation, learning, and experience. I do not feel the need to be beholden to any particular ideology or philosophy because I see such things as the lazy way out. Yes, it is entirely possible that the conclusions I have reached may be wrong, but I will say with the same certainty that the burden of proof to convince me of that is very high because it should be.

If I may be so bold, I think that what has happened in the past forty years of my own experience is that people have become eager for simple answers to very complicated questions. There are myriads of reasons for that trend, but the result has been that many people do not want to think about the problems that confront them with any kind of sophistication. Instead of thinking things through on their own, they pick the ideological or philosophical answer they’ve heard from someone else that they think fits them best and stop thinking about it. I never do.

I grant that this view of mine single-handedly insulted just about everyone, yet any argument to prove me wrong must, by necessity, delve into the very kind of nuances and complexity so many people try to avoid. God gave us our minds and learning and experience to help us understand our universe. When we fail to use those things to their fullest extent everyday, we are wasting one of the greatest blessings we have been given. I stand with Galileo in his famous defense of intellect, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use,” and refuse to back down from my positions simply because they make people uncomfortable or confused.

I understand this position means I live a somewhat isolated existence. So be it. My hope is that everyone will rise to the challenge I see in understanding the amazing and complex world in which we live, but if they do not, I will not stop for them.

I stand where I stand because I am doing my best to climb to the top of this mountain we call life. Join me.


Punching calves

I think it’s funny that one of the terms for handling cattle is “punching”. It seems like a kind of inside joke among cattle people about the arduous nature of the task of physically handling cattle during those times when they have to be moved, sorted, tagged, or banded.

I punched a bunch of calves this weekend with the help of my wonderful and dedicated family, and during the hours I spent handling those animals, the reality of food production once again hit home. It’s hard, hard work, and no amount of money ever really pays for what needs to be done.

In fact, I realized that food production is kind of like a never-ending boxing match with nature. Every encounter ends with the producer at the least exhausted and, far too often, bruised and bloody. I sometimes suspect that, even if we happen to win a particular round, we really lose a little each time until we’ve finally lost enough that it does us in.

The nature of the food production task is one that is lost on most people anymore. To them, food is something harvested by big machines and purchased at a grocery. Far too few people realize how precarious our food production ecosystem really is and how desperately they rely on the producers to keep doing what they do no matter what so they don’t starve. They have no idea that all that stands between them and real hunger is a few rhetorical pugilists who don’t know when to throw in the towel.

The fact is, we won’t. For whatever reason, the will to fight is in us. We see nature as a sometimes ally, sometimes enemy, a truly worthy opponent for the investment of our time and our effort. We’ll keep punching calves and the like because we won’t have it any other way, even if no one else understands what we do.