A Giant Red Ant
22 August 2015
The landscape changed on day two of #WorkFromMotorcycle. Not in the way that the landscape differs slightly from town to town or county to county. Not even in the drastic way that separates the land from the sea or mountains from the grassland. It changed in an alien way. You get used your surroundings. Used to the local flora and fauna. Used to the makes and models of vehicles, the architecture, what people keep in their yards, names of grocery stores, the total lack or complete crush of Starbucks locations (unofficial sponsor of #WorkFromMotorcycle). Then, if you travel far enough, all of that changes. The landscape becomes something only seen on TV or in movies, described in books and magazines, or through the all-seeing eyes of the internet. I saw that change gradually today but it did not register until at one point I looked up from the rolling ribbon of tarmac and thought “When did everything change?” A beautiful, alien landscape absent of the familiar sights and sounds of my daily world.
I was listening to the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! podcast on the ride today. Amidst the hilarity I heard something. I heard a guest with clearly differing political opinions than his fellow guests and the hosts. And that was it. He expressed them in his own humorous way. People laughed. Others expressed differing views in a humorous way. People laughed. They all laughed together. No animosity. No heated debate. No name calling or mean-spirited verbal sparring. I wish that was the nature of the public political discourse rather than the screaming heads that populate our televisions spitting vitriol to garner ratings and support tired stereotypes polarized in their beliefs and homogenous in their actions. Choose to be strong in your beliefs, open in your mind, and kind with your words. Strength is not the volume of your voice in expressing your opinion. It is the confidence to question what you believe.
I remember part of a conversation between my uncle, cousin-in-law, father, and me a couple weekends ago. One of the points my cousin-in-law made has been surfacing in my mind on a regular basis:
…If you want to live in a country where there is abject poverty and opulent wealth with a massive divide between them, you can have that. If you want to live in a country where you see people dying in the street from starvation on your way to work, you can have that as well. You can have better and worse as well. You just need to choose. Not choices in politicians or which bill to support, although these are also important. Daily choices. Choices in every moment of your life. Choices that are simultaneously the most simple and alien actions in our lives. Do you want a clean or dirty city? To spend more or less on waste collection? Then help or don’t help pick up trash in your neighborhood…
There was a lot to that conversation. I think it spanned two days. That perspective has stuck with me and asked me to question the choices I make daily. What sort of community, country, world do I want to live in and how can I make that a reality in a tangible way? Lots of questions, some answers, and more searching. Something to consider on the road.
People are beautiful. Just thought I would throw that out there. Especially when they smile.
Thanks for the smile Sarah.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Where does the Giant Red Ant come in? The Red Ants Pants Foundation.
- To develop and expand leadership roles for women.
- To preserve and support working family farms and ranches.
- To enrich and promote rural communities.
- To recognize and cultivate a strong work ethic.
- To encourage and build self-reliance, especially for women.
- To educate the public on the importance of maintaining traditional work skills.
- To provide opportunities for people with different perspectives to connect, build bridges, and discover common ground.
Read about it here: http://www.redantspantsfoundation.org/
Originally published at blog.hardlyneutral.com on August 22, 2015.