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Irons in the fire: Spread the light

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 30 September 2020

I rarely watch the news anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to keep up on current events; it’s just that I can barely tolerate the smug editorializing of those who report the news.

And by all means, please feel free to be offended by that remark because although I may have my own strong opinions, I’m an equal opportunity offender. It doesn’t matter what end of the political or social spectrum you favor, there is an overabundance of nonsense from one end to the other.

It’s a different world now – and I, like probably a whole slew of other people, tend to gather most of my worldly information as I’m staring at some sort of screen, big or small. I always preferred the newspaper, but out where I live, the news is long gone by the time the paper gets here. (What’s all this fuss about the Spanish flu?)

I’ve reluctantly discovered social media is a pretty quick way to evaluate what’s happening in and to the world around me. To be sure, social media has its ills, and I wish I could recoup some of the hours and minutes I’ve wasted watching PBR highlights and Dale Brisby videos. There are plenty of negative vibes, falsehoods and misinformed stupidity flying around Facebook and Twitter, but recently those very platforms helped restore a little bit of my lost faith in the human race.

Upon the arrival of my latest grandchild (lucky No. 7), I posted a picture of a middle-of-the-road-handsome and deceptively young-looking grandpa and sweet, new little Avy on my Facebook account. Now, I hate to think I’m one of those people who has to fish for “likes,” hearts and smiley face emojis to validate my popularity, but I think maybe I am that guy, at least to some extent. A picture of a new granddaughter on Facebook gets as much attention as a litter of Saint Bernard puppies in a playground. That picture garnered me “likes” and “loves” and comments in the triple digits.

A couple weeks later, I posted a short essay on the virtues of FFA advisers from his eminence, the king of cowboy comedy and prose, Baxter Black. That particular post caught fire in the ag world and was shared thousands of times. Thousands! As it turns out, good people appreciate goodness. And that’s what lifted my spirits.

Maybe I was overextending my cheeriness, but it genuinely felt to me like the people who responded to the “good news” posts were honestly sincere in their reactions. At first, I thought it must be just because everyone is weary of the headline-grabbing darkness that permeates every corner of our consciousness these days. And while that may certainly be true, upon further reflection, I have to give the people in my sphere more credit than that.

I need not look very far down my list of friends (and I mean real friends as well as those I may only know on a superficial level) to find scores of people who are authentically good to the core. These are people who wish and hope and strive for what’s best for those around them, regardless of the fickle political and social winds driving the popular rhetoric.

These are the kind of people who hook up their trailers and drive a hundred miles to rescue a stranger’s cattle from a brush fire. These are people who stop to visit the neighbor who lost his wife three years ago but who still grieves for her, even though the clarity of the grief has worn off for everyone else. Yes, these are the people whose hearts ache for those who hurt and who celebrate the everyday joys and triumphs of their friends.

Just because one of the ways they may share their light happens to be through a computer screen doesn’t mean the light isn’t real.  end mark

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter or email Paul Marchant.

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