I’m deeply bothered. Bothered by it all. I have watched the video and I still don't think it's clear what happened. I have read the articles—both for and against the occupation. There is a part of me that wishes I could choose sides as easily as the masses I see around me. Applauding or condemning, at will, but I cannot. Maybe I know too much. Perhaps too little?
I’m not here to argue or convince. Merely to try to make sense of it all for myself. A man is dead. I didn’t know him personally, but I know folks who did. And from what I can tell, he was a good man, if imperfect. It saddens me to witness people who cheer his death, and tout that “he got what he wanted”. Probably because I see it differently. While he may have said he would prefer death to prison, it seems to me that what he really wanted was to stand up for a cause in which he believed, to support the healthy use of public lands and to stem government overreach. Were his methods the most reasonable choice? I don’t know. And I don’t think you can REALLY claim to know either. All you can know is what you would have done and what you feel is justifiable for yourself. Unfortunately, we see only a micron of what is happening on both sides of the story. We see only what each side would have us see, for that is their reality and all they can ultimately show us.
I concede that you are entitled to your opinion on the matter, as am I, but when did it become okay to dismiss the life of a man with complete disregard for the fact that he was a man? Where has our humanity gone? Have we, as a society, become so incredibly selfish that the death of another member of the human race is irrelevant? Or worse, a cause for celebration?!? Can we not agree to disagree without exacting a death sentence? Can we not be loving and accepting of one another, even when there are differences? And what of moderation? Isn’t it reasonable that we find a way to use and conserve the lands simultaneously? Every part of me believes there has to be a way to do just that. Stewardship over the land has to be the answer.
Unfortunately, moderation doesn’t sell the people. Extremes do. And if the masses can be polarized under the pretense that one side is wrong and the other right, victory can be claimed and camp set up on personal moral high ground. Ironically enough, each side will claim said victory and the right to be on that moral high ground. Go figure, right?
Yes. I do know the leaders of the movement. They are cousins, somewhere down the line. Men I have spent days with at our family reunion. They are God fearing men who love the outdoors, ranching, horses, dancing, and family. They are tellers of stories and practical jokers.
To a certain degree, I understand their plight, if only as an observer. I know the fight over public land usage in the West is tense. I have been privy to it for as far back as my memory reaches. Whether it’s a fight over land use, water rights, development, mining, air space, endangered species, or a myriad of other topics, it has had a place in my life. Still, at the end of the day, he who controls the water, controls the land out here. It’s just the way it is. Anyone who tells you that water rights in the desert southwest is an easy matter is either uneducated or incredibly naïve. There is nothing easy about water rights out here. Even Senator Barry Goldwater is fabled for saying something along the lines of “We’ll sell you our gold and share our women but if you come after our water you’ll have a fight on your hands!”
This situation is not black and white from where I sit. There is no clear right and wrong. There is so much ambiguity and bias that we may never fully understand the truth of the matter.
So, I suppose, at the end of the day, my plea is simply this…
Seek to understand the whole truth in the matter, not just the truth that suits your fancy. Be moderate and reasonable as you form your opinions. Understand that when someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t make that person inferior, stupid, or evil. Just different from you. Stop the name calling and belittling. Be willing to ask the hard questions and receive the answers that come. But most importantly—see the humanity of the situation. There are, after all, humans on both sides of this fight who are doing what they believe to be right.