Jeff Farris

Jeff Farris

While cleaning up my strawberry bed the other day a vivid memory interrupted my gardening thoughts. It was years ago when my boys, 4 and 6 years old, and I were picking strawberries at one of the many fields back in the 1980s. I don’t remember if it was Gombarts, Kruses, Berry patch, or any that probably no longer exist. Hence growing my own for our grandkids. It was in the morning and the three of us were in our assigned row, moving the flag as we made our way. A couple of rows across was a man about my age now — ancient. I could hear him loudly mumbling and it seemed directed at us. He stood up, grabbed his bucket and almost yelled, “Look at them. They don’t know how to pick. I’ll bet they can’t even use a post hole digger!” The boys didn’t seem to hear him and kept picking and eating. I told him he might be happier on another row and he stomped off, jumped in his truck and sped off, not paying for what he had in his pail. After he left my 6-year old came over and asked, “Dad, what was that man afraid of?” It wasn’t me. I hadn’t yelled or threatened. But my son’s take on the situation was insightful.

It seems a lot of folks are upset over just about anything. Most of it inconsequential, or at least not worth getting angry over. We assume to know everyone else’s motives without speaking to them, judging them by their ballcaps, T-shirts, bumper stickers, flags, masks or no masks, whatever.

Thank goodness we don’t have cable or satellite and get to miss the carnival barkers on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ad nauseam. The hosts are hawking viagra substitutes, pillows, timeshares, or security systems showing some hooded bad guy climbing through a window. All of them have an agenda to keep you watching so advertisers can look at how many of us suckers are getting brainwashed and pay the networks accordingly. I tried to watch some of those talking heads on trips while in a motel. I usually last about two minutes on each one and then my wife will turn on HGTV. It seems that the outrage presented by the hosts on all of the channels purpose, besides selling crap, to instill fear in everyone.

My grandmother was a wonderful, simple person who quit school in 6th grade and got married at 16. She wasn’t 16 in the 6th grade but married a despicable, racist tyrant that fortunately died while she still had time to enjoy life. Not having much education, she relied on the traditions and fears of the back road superstitions of West Virginia to tell me what not to do; “Don’t rock a rocking chair with no one in it or someone will die,” “Don’t

watch someone walk or drive away until you can’t see them or you’ll never see them again”. She was a saint but had some entertaining fears.

Once, while working in the Douglas Community Hospital Emergency room on the night shift it was quiet and we, six of us, sat around yakking about inane stuff when an actual topic came up. “Whats your biggest fear?” Of course those of us with kids said the obvious: the health and safety of our children. Some didn’t want to end up like many of the trauma patients we cared for. Then the wisest of us said probably the only thing we actually do have control over: “Losing the love of my family.” That has stuck with me for 40 years. (Thanks, Paul). There is so little we can actually control in our lives that is important. Our 3-year-old grandson had a cancerous tumor removed two years ago and is in complete remission. Some of our children raised in a church will walk away. My ex-brother-in-law lies in a hospital on life support after an accident with a drunk driver. We have a young nephew in the state prison who was raised in a loving Christian home. We can only do the best we can and try not to threaten, berate, or insult people we disagree with.

It’s best to not allow any group or individuals’ influence to control the ‘better angels of our nature.’ We, of our own volition, get to decide what to support based on our history, education, and conscience. Not the carnival barkers. Voltaire wrote 300 years ago, “It’s hard to free fools from the chains they embrace.” Whether that be talking heads or an unmanned rocking chair.

Washington wrote to Hamilton in 1793 hoping that: “... liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of others instead of wounding suspicions and irritating charges that can rend the Union asunder.”

Jeff Farris is a retired Roseburg firefighter, struggling gardener and general curmudgeon, who lives blissfully in Glide with his wonderful wife.

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(3) comments

Huge bbfan

Majority of people aren't angry. Not sure why you are saying that they are. Because, honestly, you don't really know.


Huge bbfan:

You write, "Majority of people aren't angry. Not sure why you are saying that they are."

Jeff did not refer to any "majority". He wrote: "It seems a lot of folks are upset over just about anything. "

Huge bbfan, "a lot" is not the same as a "majority." Is arithmetic something that, honestly, you don't really know?


Great column. Thanks!

Anger and fear shut down executive function in the brain, cripple reason, and drive us to do irrational things. Anger and fear also cause people on social media to engage further, and get driven by algorithms deeper and deeper into unreason. I mean, Q.

Anybody who is not struggling in the garden isn't in the garden.

And, speaking of gardens: Voltaire tells us through Candide and Dr. Pangloss, that we ought to attend to our own gardens. It's still the case, though, that while Candide tended his own garden, bloody atrocities occurred; we are morally responsible to attend to the world around us, as much as to our own little cabbages and lettuces. And collards and kale, for us lefties....

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