Good Friday musing on lines from Yeats

You know it:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer…

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Fools dominate the news. Too many good people in the west support a thuggish blowhard who refuses to accept the law while apparently trying to start a war;, one who even brags he will put women on the front line. As I said to the writer below, this is not a horse you want to hitch your wagon to (he agreed, having just written the same thing to a friend!)

Meanwhile, too many decent urbanites with little sense of western matters seem to yearn for state power to strike him in a way they may come to regret. See here for a frightening look into the militarization of our police forces, a phenomenon that seems to have started with the “war” on drugs– do we really need internal wars, like Mexico’s? — and shows no sign of stopping, with supporters on our so- called right AND left. It seems strange to worry about Putin’s psychological warfare in Ukraine  before we put our own house in order.

Nor can those with only a vague sense of what the west is understand how passionately those whose families have been living and working the land for generations feel about what is their only home. Complexities of legal ownership abound; but instead of who the land belongs to, think of it differently: who belongs to that land?

So here is a thoughtful guest post, a musing on the situation by a rancher and writer who also worries, and brings both a rancher’s perspective and a spiritual dimension that I cannot easily write about. As JP says, it is an appropriate day.

7 thoughts on “Good Friday musing on lines from Yeats”

  1. As a non-Westerner, a liberal, and an environmentalist (gasp!), I admit to little patience with those who own private land in the West and complain about state or Federal encroachment. Steve rightly asks, who belongs to this land? Can anyone spell "Indian"?

  2. I have to deal with a number of blowhards in my work. The more they wrap themselves in "principle," the more you know they are feeding their own narcissism.

    The militarization of American police due to the war on drugs/war on terror is one of the most disturbing developments of our time. Look no further than Albuquerque to see what happens when the public is treated like insurgents. Or Austin where a young woman is taken down for jaywalking.

    Thanks for the link.

    Jim Cornelius

  3. *Thank You* for reposting this.
    It is too complex for me.

    I think that Good Stewardship should be the key.
    (Kipling's poem "The Land" comes to mind–*)
    Who belongs to the land?
    Who knows it, Cares for it, in an Active way?

    I have seen overgrazed land; and land that benefits from having cattle on it.
    I haven't seen the range in question. I do not know its history,condition, how the current drought has hit it, etc.

    If you, or your grandfather, have agreed to pay to graze your livestock on public land, I feel you ought to honor that debt…

    Considering the damage often done to those places for private gain, I think the government does not charge Enough for the right to extract many of the things taken from 'public' lands. (Timber companies, I am looking at your clear-cuts, and logging roads built with tax money)

    (*I will send it in a separate post)

  4. Steve rightly asks, who belongs to this land? Can anyone spell "Indian"?


    Indian? You mean that one of those groups of people descended from immigrants more accurately described as Siberian-Americans?

    We are all descended from immigrants, just different on when the immigrants arrived.

    Also in this case you'd have to ask "which Indians?" The Indians that were there when Europeans arrived had only been in that area for 1000 years or so. Those Numic speakers had migrated in from California and displaced a group whose name we don't know, though they may have been related to the Anasazi. At least they farmed, made pottery, and lived in pit houses like Anasazi.

    If you ask the rancher he says he does.
    If you ask someone from Mexico he could say he does as the US took it from them in 1848.
    If you ask someone from Spain he could say he does as the Mexicans stole New Spain in the 1820 revolution.
    If you ask a Numic-speaking Paiute or Goshute he would say he does and would probably claim (inaccurately) his tribe had been there forever.
    If you ask someone from one of the Western Pueblos (who knows archaeology) he would say he does.
    Who did the Anasazi take it from?

    Not so simple a question, in my opinion.

  5. I also mentioned the "injun" perspective over on J. P.'s blog, but I DID at least also mention the different injun tribes regularly "displacing" each other! But I'm afraid this rancher has about as much chance as the injuns did against the U. S. guvmint. Us Easterners have a hard time understanding anything regarding ranchers' rights on Federal Lands, since such rights were extinguished long ago in the East(as far as I know). As far as land rights go, I learned long ago as a landless peasant to not worry so much about whichever cultural legality was currently in place, just keep yer movements secretive as a panther, and quietly go about yer business! But then, I don't have to worry about hiding 900 head of cattle!….L.B.

  6. Speaking as one of those Eastern, mostly liberal tenderfoots, I can offer up some assurance that we folk back here on the other side of the Mississippi share your concern about the militarization of domestic police forces without a doubt; and once you've looked at their heavy armor, take a gander at the Justice System (which now operates as a for profit corporation) as it funnels ever increasing numbers of convicted felons into privatized prison systems. The lock down of Boston following last year's terrorist bombing should leave no doubt as to the armament now being held by city and state police organizations.

    Having spent a good portion of my younger years in sort of campy art colonies in New Mexico and Arizona, not to mention an occasional researchers foray into assorted canyons and Mesa Verde I've got an abiding love and yearning for those places still, and the Canadian Rockies will call me back for as long as I live; having said all that, and having given a good deal of thought to the Mexican Cession of 1848 and Nevada statehood in 1868, I still find it difficult to understand the attitude of the gentleman in question regarding the existence of the Federal Government. A peek into the little brochure he carries in his pocket tells us a great deal about the source of his scholarship … it is questionable.

    Indiana Lady with all those Black Dogs


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