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The Responsibility of the Fortunate

Here I sit trying to write a newsletter, knowing children are unfairly and forcibly separated from their parents along the United States southern border under a new policy which our president is using as leverage for political gain.

How unjust and cruel.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been born when I was, to the parents I was, in the relatively rich, politically stable country I was, with the color skin I have – all because of no merits of my own. I feel incredibly sad for those born without the same privileges. And I can’t help but feel a certain degree of guilt for my fortune.

I find it uncomfortable to think about the fact that we live on a farm inhabited by Native Americans for centuries before they were forcibly removed in the 19th century. The effigy mounds in the shapes of eagles, bison, birds, coyotes, and snakes along the Wisconsin River are reminders I see each time I drive to Spring Green and Madison.

Comparatively, I have ancestors who have been in Wisconsin for 118 years, a mere blip on the timeline of mankind.

Honestly (because why even have this discussion unless I’m being honest) we don’t have much money, but we realize that we are rich beyond measure because of not only our family, friends, and CSA members, but also because we are recognized as owners of these 56 acres. We can call it “ours.” And here we not only live a rural existence – but thrive without threat of it being taken against our will.

That gives us the power landowners enjoy. We can grow our food – vegetables, eggs, meat, along with syrup and honey and influence the way for which our land is cared.

We can add natural minerals and nutrients to enrich underground soil life. We can raise animals humanely.

We can create wildlife areas for birds, frogs, small mammals, deer, snakes, and insects in the diverse plant life bordering this section of Byrds Creek.

Shelby, Belle, and their calves heading out to their pasture.

Sleepy 4 week old puppies.

We can affect change and creativity in real time.

We revel in the wide-open space of the natural world just outside our door. We benefit because of the unfair treatment of others from before our time, hardly giving it a thought as we move through our daily lives.

Dragonfly sitting on a Swiss chard leaf.

Butterfly resting on the driveway.

We spend little time thinking about others still facing unfair treatment because of things they have no power to change such as race, gender, and sexuality. Bill and I may fall asleep worrying about the challenges that Liam, Aidan, and Marlee will face as they grow and become independent but, because our skin happens to be white, we never fret that they will be unfairly racially profiled.

In fact, sometimes the biggest first-world problem we face after a long day in the fields is whether to drive to town to spend some of our farmers market money on take-out food versus cleaning up the messy kitchen to prepare supper before heading to bed.

We don’t ever wrestle with leaving everything we know in search of opportunities for our family versus staying in unsafe living conditions and/or abject poverty. We never weigh the risks of traveling through areas of civil unrest to take a chance

on a better life in a country revered for proudly displaying

a plaque on its Statue of Liberty reading . . .

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses

yearning to breathe free”

. . . only to have our children forcibly taken from us so we can be processed in the criminal courts of this supposedly empathetic country. And then be deported back to the dangerous conditions we tried to escape – possibly never to see

our kids again.

And all because we wanted the same thing every human desires – a chance to better our family’s life situation.


How embarrassingly lucky we are. And how disgustingly cruel this new policy is.

Don’t we have a responsibility to not only realize our fortune, even when if it makes us uncomfortable, but also to take any action we can to help those less so?

Don’t we?

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