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Rural Secrets – The Book of Matt

September 6, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile we have a focus of direct marketed food, there’s a focus on things that go with that. Sharing what we love – rural life, fairs, events, people and the good things that drive why we do what we do. Some look down at our country ways…it’s backwards. It’s not as ‘modern’ and ‘hip’ as the city (with all of the problems there too!).

And yet the country isn’t the same today as it was growing up. Illinois mid 1970s I’d saddle up the horse and explore, visit friends, ride for hours. That same area is no longer safe for kids to do that. It’s better than many, but breakins and crime came to rural America. There’s a caution when a strange car pulls up now.

Here in Alabama yesterday morning our county reported three shootings before 9 a.m. and a dozen felony arrests. The long empty house behind us had things stolen. That which isn’t protected is apt to walk away. We’re over cautious and when a dog barks I don’t assume it’s nothing. There was the man who walked up several years ago, unsteady on his feet, asking if I wanted to buy a hammer.

There are thousands of dollars in livestock and equipment stolen in rural America. There is a threat to our rural way of life – even bigger than legislation, activists and other threats, and yet tied up with them in ignorance.

It’s something battled by a friend I don’t get to see nearly enough anymore.

Drugs aren’t new to rural America, but the increase in trafficking, theft, violence is. When people say drugs don’t hurt anyone I get angry. I’ve seen far too many people pay the price, literally and figuratively, of drugs. It’s something I was warned away from early in life and I’m thankful for it.

So aside from the farm here I like to read, and among the books that came across my path via NetGalley was The Book of Matt. Seemingly unrelated. Most know the story of Matthew Shepard – severely beaten and left for dead, supposedly, because he was gay. Except that was determined by people, media, not facts. Facts.

Those details that people swear to hold to in a court of law. Those things that many cynically say it’s not what happened it’s what you can prove.

Why does the murder of a teenage girl result in less time served than neglect to report a horrendous crime? What does the “nothing out there” flyover states have besides ag land and a whole lot of nothing? And what does this book have to do with it?

Drugs. When you think it doesn’t matter to be diligent with kids and keep them out of trouble read this. If you think it’s about the murder of a 21 year old gay guy…stop and read this. If you think there’s cut and dried issues or are ready to look at facts with an open mind, pick up this book.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEspecially if you live in the rural areas we love. It’s done nothing but become a bigger problem in the 16 years since this mark in history happened. Many might scoff “well the media said…” – and as I’ve said many times in this blog don’t believe everything the media says! Why do we so easily accept things that don’t make sense because someone said so in a paper, television show or online? Why do people believe that but still question farmers injecting chickens (which truly makes no sense)?

I won’t lead you to what I think – readers here are smart enough to draw their conclusions when faced with truths. The truth is there was injustice done, and it continues. The truth is our communities aren’t safe because of the same issues that swirled around Matthew Shepard. The truth is no one deserves to die the way he did. The truth is he’s just the most visible. The truth is if we don’t stop the problem in our communities it will continue to kill. It will take those we know, and maybe a relative.

This is more than a pellet in the ear of a steer, or what housing accommodations a hog or chicken has, or what kind of seed is being planted. This comes to an eroding of the truth, of our safety, our communities and lives. What do we stand for in our communities? This is our kids, folks. Keeping them out of it doesn’t mean they won’t have to deal with it.

How do we help young people stay away from it? A multimillion dollar question. Cynics say wrap it in hard work – but wrapped in their LIFE doesn’t make a difference. Getting to those pulling the strings is dangerous, and those who think there’s nothing happening in Wyoming can get a rude awakening here at a niche market worth millions. Think it’s gone away.

Think again. We can’t afford not to.


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