Al Campbell, Field Editor

December 2nd, 2002

My Silent Voice
By Al Campbell

Today, I'm not talking to my wife. I'm not mad at her or anything, I'm just not talking to her. I caught one of those weird virus type things that's doing a number on my chest and today, my vocal cords. If I try real hard, I can squeak a little, but that's it.

Have you ever tried to call your dog back into the house when you can't make a noise? Today I opened the back door and called for Buford (my basset hound). He didn't hear me. So, I got closer and tried to yell at him. He just tipped his head to the side and looked at me as if to say "what?" He didn't even drink his milk after I managed to coax him inside the house. I always tell him to check his dish when I give him milk. Today, it just doesn't sound right.

I can't yell at my wife either. Not that I ever yell at her, but I couldn't if I wanted to. When I clear my throat real good I can manage a squeak, but that just gets her laughing. In fact, she's been laughing way too hard and too often. I wish I could yell at her for it.

What does this have to do with flyfishing? Well, nothing, unless you consider where your voice can be heard. Where can you go to express your feelings as a fly-fisher? Are you able to get your point across, or are your words as silent as mine are today?

You could contact your congressman or senator. We have a few new faces coming up in those ranks soon. They're supposed to listen to us and represent us, right? Yep, I'm sure you'll get your point across that way. NOT! If the new crew is anything like the bunch they replaced, your voice will be just one in many thousands. Compared to the guys who spread money around Washington promoting their special interests, your voice will be as loud as mine is today. Silence isn't always golden.

You could join a group. Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) are always looking for fresh blood and fresh donations. As a member of a large organization like one of those, you'll be heard, right? If you all agreed on everything, maybe, but those groups have a lot of members. Once again, your voice will be one of many thousands, and those thousands usually don't fully agree on anything. Voices to the left of me, voices to the right; here I am, stuck in the middle again. And, I'm not even on the board of directors.

Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe in contacting my congressman and senators with my feelings. If enough other people feel the same way as I do, maybe they'll grab the money from a lobbyist who supports the same ideals. Some conservation groups have lobbyists who express the desires of the majority of their group. For that matter, so do the groups who oppose fishing. Make your voice heard as many ways as possible.

Getting to my point, if you really feel the need to express yourself, why not make it heard here? If you can put together a few paragraphs of coherent, grammatically correct and properly spelled words; and if you can make a point and keep it clean, honest and civil, you can have a voice in the "Readers' Casts" column here.

OK, maybe that isn't the type of voice you had in mind. After all, FAOL doesn't even have lobbyists in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter. You aren't likely to get a solid political response from any column you write here. Heck, more than half the people who bother to read anything other than the bulletin board forget to read "Readers' Casts" anyway. Maybe this is just a hair-brained idea anyway. Forget it.

But wait, maybe it isn't so hair-brained after all. If I got this figured right, several thousand people will read your column in that first week. Do you think it's possible that it might get more exposure than your opinion expressed to a congressman or senator? If you yelled your feelings at the top of your voice, how many people in TU or FFF do you suppose would hear you? How does it add up to you?

I suppose it isn't the platform you wanted, but it is worth a thought. If you have something constructive to say, and you want an audience to hear it, you have a platform to speak from. On the other hand, you can remain as quiet as I have been today. In my case, there isn't a choice. In your case, there is.

I guess it's time to go squeak to my wife for a while. While I'm away, think about it for a minute. And, if you haven't read it in a while, click on Readers' Cast and see what you've been missing. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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