This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

December 17th, 2001

I'm Free!

It's a week before Christmas, and a little more than three months after the terrorist strikes on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Those attacks have flavored almost everything we do, personally and as a country. The effects continue to trickle down the food chain, people have lost family and loved ones. Charities set up to provide help dropped the ball (or got greedy), and most after being caught in the act are finally doing the right thing. Then there are the folks who lost their jobs - and that isn't just the ones in New York. From banking to the travel industry, the impact is felt world-wide. It isn't just here in America.

One of our Sponsors told me he had three trips abroad paid for - and he was struggling with the decision to go. He said he couldn't face the idea of being fishing somewhere glorious when there was a possibility American soldiers might be coming home in body bags. He isn't alone. Their reasons may be different, (fear of flying during this crisis) but fly-fishing destinations outside the U.S. tell us three-quarters of their reservations have been canceled. So they are affected as are their employees and communities.

It's been many years since I was in an economics class, so don't beat me if I get the numbers wrong, but as I recall one dollar paid in wages circulates twelve times within the community. In reverse, twelve other people or businesses are hit by that loss. Like the ring of the rise, it just continues outward. Everyone has been hurt - all of us.

I truly wish the attack had not happened. But it did, and we can't ever go back to what was before the attack. That is a time past.

The good thing is as Americans we have taken a hard look at who we are. Frankly, some of it is more than a little disturbing. I'm not going to join those who will at every opportunity blame America first. But according to a poll taken this past week, Americans now value as the most important and respected people in this country the military, police, fire and medical workers. That is a huge swing back to core values of the 1950s. Away from the instant gratification and hero worship of music, movie and sport stars. Away from the 'me first' mind set. Churches report much larger attendance and involvement too.

In some ways we got an early Christmas. Christmas is traditionally a time of family, giving and thinking about our fellow man. The 9/11 attack was a wake-up call. Most of us heard it. Americans are spending more time with their families, contributing to causes, looking inward at who they are and what their priorities are.

As fly fisherman we may have an advantage. We know how to work through and solve problems. We accept the responsibility for the outcome of our fishing endeavors. We know someone else isn't going to do whatever it is we need to do to learn - we must do it ourselves. The results depend on what we do. That translates into our attitude toward everything - or should!

What is the most important thing in your life? Are you doing everything you can to nurture and protect it? Do you have problems that must be handled? Are you approaching those with the same intelligence and fervor you would a problem in fly fishing? As anglers we constantly strive to improve our skills and knowledge. How does that convert to your work and family life?

Unfortunately the feelings which go along with the holiday season often fade by New Years. The face of this disaster will be with us for a very long time. Instead of dwelling on all the bad parts, let's try and make some real priority decisions in our personal and family life. Get off the busy tread mill and spend time with those we love and cherish. Improve yourself, keep your family close, work at improving your own community.

Stand up tall, suck in your stomach, get your chin up and remember something the terrorists never knew or understood, I'm free and this is America! ~ LadyFisher

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