Al Campbell, Field Editor

June 10th, 2002

Changing Times
By Al Campbell

My grandchildren are growing up in a very different world than the one I grew up in. In some ways, this is a better world than the one I knew as a child. In other ways, it's worse. For certain, it has changed and I don't think it will ever be the same again.

When I was young, it was considered bad manners to refuse to speak to a stranger. Granted, my family lived in a small, mostly rural community when I was young, and everyone knew everyone else's children; so we couldn't get away with much. But, we never heard of perverted people kidnapping, molesting and killing kids when I was young. It was safe to walk across town to visit a friend, and nobody worried about losing their children to some sex-crazed nut with a hand full of candy and a big smile. It just didn't happen.

Several of the schools I attended in my youth allowed older students to bring rifles, shotguns and knives to school, especially during hunting season. Hunting while traveling to and from school was a common thing in several of the schools I attended. Nobody even considered those tools as weapons to be used against other students or teachers. They were tools used in the sport of hunting, nothing else. The guns were locked up in a closet during the school day and released to the students to use on the trip home. Every boy (and even the LadyFisher) had a pocketknife; it was a tool, not a weapon.

Today's children often stare at a computer screen and play video games for entertainment. I hunted gophers with a BB gun, whittled willow bows and arrows with my personal pocketknife, rode my bike down suicide hill, and virtually lived outside when I was their age. Frogs weren't safe if I had my slingshot in my pocket; fish were fair game if I had a willow, a hook, and some string; and the biggest crime I contemplated was raiding the neighbor's apple tree or garden.

School days started with a pledge of allegiance to our flag and the country it represents. It wasn't considered a civil liberties issue to bear allegiance to the country that guaranteed those liberties. Nobody was expelled for saying a prayer in school, especially just before a big test. Theories were called theories, facts were facts; and reading, writing and arithmetic were important subjects when I was their age. Cap guns were toys, not evil creatures designed to teach us to kill other humans. Lassie, Our Gang and Beaver Cleaver were on TV, not MTV or Beavis and Butthead. Nobody complained that their "rights" were being violated by people who honor our country, our flag or our God.

I don't recall more than a couple of people posting no trespassing signs on their land the year I started hunting deer. If the land was posted, it meant the landowner wanted you to ask before you hunted or that he wanted to make sure you avoided land that had livestock on it. Nobody charged a fee for hunting or fishing. That would have been considered the ultimate form of greed, and everyone would have avoided not only the land, but also the owner of the land for trying such a greedy thing.

The population of this country has grown by a third in less time than it took me to reach this age. Although the bulk of that growth has occurred in areas already heavily populated, the recreational impact has spread to the areas of this country that have fewer people and more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Along with that spread was a spread of ideas. The world my grandkids are growing up in is already posted and signed. Recreation opportunities are shifting to the highest bidder, but those of us who live and work in the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming aren't likely to possess the income to be the highest bidder.

Fine hunting firearms aren't thought of as tools anymore. They have been officially listed as weapons in the many pieces of gun control legislation that have been enacted in my lifetime, and are being used that way more often now than they ever were before those laws were passed. Some people see more laws as the answer, but I don't see how more laws will help change the attitudes of those who disregard the laws we already have, especially if those laws aren't being enforced.

Now we have animal rights, tree rights, fish rights, gay rights, minority rights, civil rights, equal rights, and a dozen other rights I can't remember; but have all those rights done a thing to correct the many wrongs that political correctness or any other form of correctness has done to our society? Sure, some of the programs and ideas represented by some of those "rights" organizations are serving to correct past problems, but some others are creating even bigger problems. Whatever happened to ethics and the "golden rule?" If everyone treated others with the same concern they show for themselves, we wouldn't need activist organizations. Come to think of it, I wish activist organizations would treat others the way they want to be treated.

So far, we haven't seen "fly rod control" used in the same sense that the term "gun control" is used these days; but considering all the animal rights groups popping up and siphoning donor dollars into their own bank accounts, it's just a matter of time before that starts to happen. Add to that fast growing list of places that "offer" fee fishing, and the kids who don't have large bank accounts won't have access to any place to fish forty years from now if the trend continues. Who will protect your fishing rights then? It won't be the guys who charge the fees, and it sure won't be the guys with the bucks who enjoy the exclusive nature of fishing to the highest bidder. It won't be the guys who don't fish because they can't afford access either. Then the "fish rights" folks will have what they want.

One group wants to protect the "rights" of animals; another wants to protect the "rights" of trees, still another wants to protect the "rights" of perverse people who prey on children, and the list goes on; but who is protecting our children and grandchildren from those perverse predators who ride the "rights" banner right to our doorsteps? Everyone has rights, except the victims. If we let the trend continue, our children or grandchildren will fall prey to one predator or another. If they aren't molested by some nut with "rights," their recreation opportunities will be molested by a "rights" group.

What values will your children and grandchildren embrace? They are certain to grow up in a world that's much different than the one I grew up in. Will they be free to hunt or fish or enjoy long walks in our forests? Will they even have an opportunity to embrace your values, your interests or your recreations; or will that be taken away from them too? Will they care about any of those things? Our values, our ethics and our world has changed; some for the better, and some for the worse. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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