My grandchildren are growing up in a very different world
than the one I grew up in. In some ways, this is a better
world than the one I knew as a child. In other ways, it's
worse. For certain, it has changed and I don't think it will
ever be the same again.
When I was young, it was considered bad manners to refuse to
speak to a stranger. Granted, my family lived in a small, mostly
rural community when I was young, and everyone knew everyone else's
children; so we couldn't get away with much. But, we never heard
of perverted people kidnapping, molesting and killing kids when
I was young. It was safe to walk across town to visit a friend,
and nobody worried about losing their children to some sex-crazed
nut with a hand full of candy and a big smile. It just didn't happen.
Several of the schools I attended in my youth allowed older
students to bring rifles, shotguns and knives to school, especially
during hunting season. Hunting while traveling to and from school
was a common thing in several of the schools I attended. Nobody
even considered those tools as weapons to be used against other
students or teachers. They were tools used in the sport of hunting,
nothing else. The guns were locked up in a closet during the school
day and released to the students to use on the trip home. Every
boy (and even the LadyFisher) had a pocketknife; it was a tool,
not a weapon.
Today's children often stare at a computer screen and play video
games for entertainment. I hunted gophers with a BB gun, whittled
willow bows and arrows with my personal pocketknife, rode my bike
down suicide hill, and virtually lived outside when I was their age.
Frogs weren't safe if I had my slingshot in my pocket; fish were
fair game if I had a willow, a hook, and some string; and the biggest
crime I contemplated was raiding the neighbor's apple tree or garden.
School days started with a pledge of allegiance to our flag and
the country it represents. It wasn't considered a civil liberties
issue to bear allegiance to the country that guaranteed those
liberties. Nobody was expelled for saying a prayer in school,
especially just before a big test. Theories were called theories,
facts were facts; and reading, writing and arithmetic were important
subjects when I was their age. Cap guns were toys, not evil
creatures designed to teach us to kill other humans. Lassie,
Our Gang and Beaver Cleaver were on TV, not MTV or Beavis and
Butthead. Nobody complained that their "rights" were being
violated by people who honor our country, our flag or our God.
I don't recall more than a couple of people posting no trespassing
signs on their land the year I started hunting deer. If the land
was posted, it meant the landowner wanted you to ask before you
hunted or that he wanted to make sure you avoided land that had
livestock on it. Nobody charged a fee for hunting or fishing.
That would have been considered the ultimate form of greed, and
everyone would have avoided not only the land, but also the owner
of the land for trying such a greedy thing.
The population of this country has grown by a third in less time
than it took me to reach this age. Although the bulk of that
growth has occurred in areas already heavily populated, the
recreational impact has spread to the areas of this country
that have fewer people and more opportunities to enjoy the
great outdoors. Along with that spread was a spread of ideas.
The world my grandkids are growing up in is already posted and
signed. Recreation opportunities are shifting to the highest
bidder, but those of us who live and work in the Dakotas, Montana,
Nebraska and Wyoming aren't likely to possess the income to be
the highest bidder.
Fine hunting firearms aren't thought of as tools anymore. They
have been officially listed as weapons in the many pieces of gun
control legislation that have been enacted in my lifetime, and
are being used that way more often now than they ever were before
those laws were passed. Some people see more laws as the answer,
but I don't see how more laws will help change the attitudes of
those who disregard the laws we already have, especially if
those laws aren't being enforced.
Now we have animal rights, tree rights, fish rights, gay rights,
minority rights, civil rights, equal rights, and a dozen other
rights I can't remember; but have all those rights done a thing
to correct the many wrongs that political correctness or any other
form of correctness has done to our society? Sure, some of the
programs and ideas represented by some of those "rights"
organizations are serving to correct past problems, but some
others are creating even bigger problems. Whatever happened
to ethics and the "golden rule?" If everyone treated others
with the same concern they show for themselves, we wouldn't
need activist organizations. Come to think of it, I wish
activist organizations would treat others the way they want
to be treated.
So far, we haven't seen "fly rod control" used in the same
sense that the term "gun control" is used these days; but
considering all the animal rights groups popping up and
siphoning donor dollars into their own bank accounts, it's
just a matter of time before that starts to happen. Add to
that fast growing list of places that "offer" fee fishing,
and the kids who don't have large bank accounts won't have
access to any place to fish forty years from now if the
trend continues. Who will protect your fishing rights then?
It won't be the guys who charge the fees, and it sure won't
be the guys with the bucks who enjoy the exclusive nature
of fishing to the highest bidder. It won't be the guys who
don't fish because they can't afford access either. Then
the "fish rights" folks will have what they want.
One group wants to protect the "rights" of animals; another
wants to protect the "rights" of trees, still another wants
to protect the "rights" of perverse people who prey on children,
and the list goes on; but who is protecting our children and
grandchildren from those perverse predators who ride the "rights"
banner right to our doorsteps? Everyone has rights, except the
victims. If we let the trend continue, our children or
grandchildren will fall prey to one predator or another.
If they aren't molested by some nut with "rights," their
recreation opportunities will be molested by a "rights" group.
What values will your children and grandchildren embrace?
They are certain to grow up in a world that's much different
than the one I grew up in. Will they be free to hunt or fish
or enjoy long walks in our forests? Will they even have an
opportunity to embrace your values, your interests or your
recreations; or will that be taken away from them too? Will
they care about any of those things? Our values, our ethics
and our world has changed; some for the better, and some for
the worse. ~ AC