Engaging with the opposition

I had a somewhat entertaining conversation last night with my aunt’s neighbors and good friends, who happen to be Fox News programmed conservatives. I don’t go around picking fights with people with differing political views, and most of the time I won’t even be baited into it. But these guys were pretty relentless.

As best I can tell from the talking points they were throwing at me, they’re small business owners who are pissed about increased insurance premiums due to Obamacare (or at least that’s their perception, which may or may not be accurate).

They proceeded to quiz me on how much I really knew about what happened in Libya. Did I know 20% of the population is on food stamps and the U.S. government is funding radio ads in Mexico encouraging people to come to the United States and go on welfare. Oh, and my favorite, Obama and Jay-Z used Twitter to steal the election.

I told them, as a father of two boys under 4 and primary breadwinner of my household, I didn’t have time to really gather all of my liberal talking points, and that I wouldn’t be a very fun sparring partner. I could gather up all the zingers and comebacks, but essentially I don’t have time or interest.

You’re actors, reading a script. You’re repeating the nonsense you’re being fed. That’s not thinking, and I don’t really want to learn my lines representing the other side, which are also occasionally unsubstantiated bullshit as well.

Eventually they stumbled into environmental issues, and I had to chuckle a little. They’d made some statements earlier about how they’re worried about the world their children and grandchildren would inherit — what kind of world will be left when gays can marry and the government can limit our rights to assault rifles?

Instead, I’d worry about what kind of world our grandchildren will inherit if there are no more intact native ecosystems. I worry about the lonely world we’ll be left with as habitat destruction collapses species diversity. Extinction is a one-way street, and wildlife management without habitat is a fools errand.

Please view exhibit A: A time lapse animation of logging on Oregon’s Siletz River basin since 1984. You can’t create more old growth habitat. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Here is exhibit B: My friend with a beautiful wild chinook salmon, caught in a small river drainage that depends on big mature trees in that rainforest.

Nate and Nic salmon Trip

My aunt had given me a birthday present, a copy of the Gary Snyder Reader, and in the forward Jim Dodge wrote “Nature bats last.” Eventually we’ll do something stupid and wipe ourselves off the map and nature will eventually rebound in some kind of new form.

But until then, I want to protect and honor what we have and try to pass some of it down to my sons.

Barry Lopez (paraphrasing here, as I don’t have it in front of me…) had written that in indigenous Arctic cultures, the state of happiness was defined as being in the presence of an abundance of animals. I can get with that.

My youngest son and I recently visited a friend and poet Maj Ragain, and we talked a bit about an environmental project I’m working on and he talked about the Buddhist concept of katannu-katavedi. Katannu is a debt, and katavedi is how you pay that debt. Gratitude for everything we’ve been given, all these animals and diversity of beautiful living things.

I guess I’ll spend the next several months with that Gary Snyder reader, and have something wiser to say next time they want to play act and read from their scripts.


About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
This entry was posted in Back East, books, Conservation, Ohio and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Engaging with the opposition

  1. roberta4949 says:

    I am with you on caring for the enviroment, I love the woods and wow you caught a big fish to, the problem with enviromental issues it no longer is about the enviorment, sound science but ideology appeal to emotion, and if these envirometal whoever get their way you would nt even be allowed to fish without a costly permit, nor camp nor hike nor do anything in the woods, their idea of protecting the forests and rivers is not to allow humans access or use of any kind harmful or not. the enviroment is being used as a means to an end, kind of like protecting the oppressed or helping the oppressed is a means to an end not about helping these people at all, this end is using enviroment concern that most of us have in the usa, can’t speak for other nations, to get support for basically stealing people’s property right out from under them without using direct takings (which requires eminent domain issues and just compensation and just cause which puts the proof of burden on the takers rather than the owner of the property. using enviromental treaties and regulations is a way around that where the owner has the proof of burden and the regulators and enforcers have the say so over your property rights without any payment whatsoever. basically it is a hostile takeover (like in corporate settings) by the stronger corp known as the federal goverment, over a weaker corporations the average business land owner (like a small time logger or maybe a small time commercial fishery or something similar)or average owner of land, obviously from all that I read even from lawyers, the federal gov is a corp and we are considered a corporation as well, hence the reason we need licenses and permits and pay income taxes (which orignally were for corp profit our wages being considered one hundred percent profit) hence corportizing everyone and every thing is a way around the law as legalism is basically corp law. only applies to corporations. boy how they have turned things around and upside down too with this. so our forests and our rights to use them (since we paid for them in sweat blood and money) is being commoditized as for sale to the highest bidder (the one with the most guns in this case) whoever pays the enviormentalists to do their dirty work. I do hope it never gets to this point (as in the wildlands project map, google it) because I love the woods and would hate to be denied them simply because I am human and humans are considered a plague to nature by these creepy people. my hubby he loves to fish too and loved your fish you caught there.

    • Jason says:

      Wow, Roberta. Thanks for helping Matt illustrate the bloviated nonsense he described. I think you nailed it. Terrific depiction of unintelligent, uneducated blather and bad writing.

      (Switch to sincere tone)

      Great article, Matt. I don’t know how you can make it Ohio after being out West. I wrote my thesis on Snyder and his words drove my passion and appreciation for the amazing gifts we enjoy in the PNW. I’m not sure you’ll find much solace in his eloquently crafted concerns about our planet, but his words will certainly strengthen your resolve to do something about the direction our natural world is headed. I admire your willingness to engage the “Foxheads,” but I believe your energies would be better invested elsewhere. They aren’t interested in facts, a broader understanding, or compassion for anyone or anything outside their “fold.”

  2. Julie C says:

    Matt, it doesn’t matter what you say. You could hit them with logic and zingy comebacks galore. So far I haven’t seen one person who is willing to accept the Fox News talking points who has been phased in any way by logic, reason, intelligent thought or, you know, facts. 🙂

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