I don’t watch much news on TV. Part of that has to do with only getting Portland’s news stations. I just can’t relate to them. One week the greater good of Portland is pissed off that their roads are falling apart. The next week, the same people are pissed off that road construction is going on around them. Citizens speaking out on the news continuously demand for someone to be held accountable and for someone to correct some sort of problem.
It’s not really like that in rural America. I don’t mean to imply that we don’t have a long list of our own beefs, yes, pun intended. We do. We are inherently independent. We don’t really have a “someone” to blame or “someone” to fix it. It’s more “us” and “we” than “them” and “they” out here. When our electricity goes out, we grab the binoculars and scan our neighbor’s places for functioning irrigation sprinklers or lights to see how big the outage is before we call the power company so we can give them an idea of which power pole went down. When our water pressure drops, we troubleshoot it ourselves. We test our own water. If it goes bad, well, it’s our own problem and we just pray it’s not the well going bad. That’s on us. Nobody calls. Nobody is expected to call. Honestly, we likely won’t even test the water until everyone in the house is sick – and doesn’t get better – for maybe weeks… We certainly aren’t going to make a stink about being notified more than once or outside of a 4 hour window. And we aren’t going to demand a costly, city investigation of any of it. That’s time, money and resources that are needed somewhere else.
When a storm wreaks havok on neighbors fields, we get out of our trucks to help move their irrigation lines, equipment, cows, horses and goats; back to where they belong. We don’t sue them or boycott them or call the news station to come video us carrying poster board signs out in front of their homes. On the flip side, we don’t go cut down their trees for a better view – er, ah, at least without asking. Turn-a-bout is fair play. Anyone who has had their lush, green lawn oversprayed with ground sterilizer knows that The Golden Rule is real out here, and you never know when you may need a neighbor to come pull you out of an irrigation ditch or loan you some duct tape.
I understand that having a neighbor’s home 6-8 feet away from your own is much different than living a half a mile away. I get that all the rules, regulations, laws and home owner association codes are disabling within the city limits. I can only imagine the frustration level reached for a 2 mile drive taking 3 hours. The city is a different animal. Part of me is envious. It might be nice to have the luxury of blame and condemnation. It might even feel good to assign culpability and demand an outside entity correct the latest issue. At the same time, I get to live in a world where my coworker’s husband was championed this winter for plowing local streets, not because it was his job but because he had the equipment, made the time and had the desire to make things better for everyone. (Thank you, Josh Tolman!) I get to live in a world where balance is a way of life and understanding cause/effect and action/consequence is ingrained in our existence, not explained in a college course. It’s not easy nor is it fun but it makes us independent and accountable for our own selves, lives, families and home — and it keeps us from making asses of ourselves on the local news. Frankly, we’re too busy and none of us get the local news station anyway.