by Baxter Black

On the Edge of Common Sense

The Gap of No Understanding

There is a bridge to cross in understanding between those who live off the land (rural) and those who benefit from it (urban), but have no personal relationship with it.

Examples abound. I suspect a large portion of urbanites imagine the wolf as a gladiator of the woods. He has a family with little ones. They only eat what they are forced to kill. Sort of a “Lion King” image.

Rural folks consider them more like the mafia. Don Lobo is the drug dealer, thief, leader of the gangs who shoot innocent bystanders, the muggers and serial killers. Realistically they are the apex predator and consider anything else that moves as prey.

The romantic image that wolves imbue to many urbanites, explains why they support reintroduction of wolves into the rural areas. They are never exposed to the consequences. It’s all movies to them.

Those rural folks who are recipients of relocated wolves can predict that their lives and those of their children and livestock will be drastically changed. Imagine if the government declared to the urbanite that they were going to plant stinging nettle or poison ivy in their backyard. “Don’t worry,” they reassure, “We will only plant the poison ivy and nettle in one side of your yard.”

“It will spread,” protest the urban folks. “Why are you doing this in the first place?  It took us years to get rid of the weeds, the thistle and cholla, the helmlock and kudzu. You will ruin everything. We have pets, we have young children, we have a stone BBQ grill, we have a fountain. We’ve planted shade trees, what kind of people are you?”

The government assures the recipients of the predator plants that their goal is to make sure that these plants don’t become extinct. If they could only get them classified as endangered, they could take your land.

Rural communities are often ravaged by a government of No Understanding. Can you imagine the appointed leaders of the Department of Interior or the EPA treating their political benefactor or their next-door urban neighbor the way they routinely treat rural people? The majority of urbanites support the invasions as long as it is “Not in my backyard.” It’s like talking to “What, me Worry?”

Is there a way to bridge this gap of No Understanding? Rural people do not hate wolves. They actually understand the predator/prey relationship better than most. They are part of it on a day-to-day basis. Since Columbus and Coronado invaded the western hemisphere, man has gradually assumed the apex predatorship above wolves, bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and alligators. Man has been playing his part in nature since then. That is why there are no wolves in the White House lawn, Hyde Park in Chicago or in the Hollywood Bowl.

The government’s meddling is now trying to reverse nature’s way, but only if it is “Not in their own backyard.” I guess it’s their hypocrisy that most rural folks resent.