Entitlement. What do I mean by that? What does that word mean to you? I've come to believe that's what is wrong in today's society. Entitlement. So many people believe they're "entitled" to have this or to do that without giving any thought to the other person.
Entitlement. These are the people we see every day now it seems running red lights or cutting someone off on the freeway. These are the people who steal from others. These are the people break into your house, who take a child, who go firing their weapons into crowds of people. Entitlement. These are the people who feel, for whatever misguided reason, that they are somehow better than the next person... who are entitled to whatever they please.
What follows is a poem I wrote for my husband to try to give a voice to what he was feeling when others felt they were more entitled to his land than he was...
I look at the land around me,
And think of the history there,
Farming's a part of my legacy,
But does anybody care?
I've worked this land which surrounds me,
Since I was a wee little lad.
The journey's been a long one,
When the time comes to leave, I'll be sad.
Just like my father's father,
And those who went before,
There comes a day when you realize,
You just can't do it anymore...
The days are getting longer,
And the work is hard to bear.
My kids have left the farm now,
Finding easier work elsewhere.
Family farms are dying off,
A little more each year.
Who will be the first among you,
To shed a single tear?
You hide behind the pretense,
Of caring about the land.
Now I am on the defense,
My dreams are on sinking sand.
My body's growing weary,
And the costs are growing steep.
You still don't quite understand,
As my commodities run cheap.
As long as you can have your way,
It matters naught to you,
That my family and I have paved the way,
For city folks like you.
Despite generations of farming, it is sad to me to watch what sometimes happens when others move in. We had friends who had to sell their farm after a couple of subdivisions were built around their land. Soon people began complaining about the smells and the noise and the dust. They hired lawyers to stop them from doing what they'd done for generations and ran them out of business.
My husband, his brother, and some other neighboring farmers tried to sell some of their land. They were met with resistance by those who had moved out from the "burbs" to enjoy the countryside. Those same neighbors soon began lodging complaints with the township about the smell and the noise and the dust. Then they hired lawyers to stop us from selling. It was in litigation for several years until the economy took a dive and the company that was interested in buying the land went belly up.
I don't know if we'll ever be able to sell our land in our lifetime. But I wish people would stop to think how unfair this all is. Most farmers, contrary to what you hear on the news, don't make a ton of money — they get by. The middle man is the one making the money and so most farmers depend on being able to sell at least some of their land in order to make it through their later years.
Our neighbors want to be able to look at the scenery and enjoy it. That's fine by me, but why should it be for the farmer to continue to pay the price for their enjoyment?
"... the ending of an era and the turning of a page..."