With the next election a little more than a week away, I can honestly say there is nothing I've heard so far from any of the candidates that encourages me to go to the polls. As far as I'm concerned, it's the same old, same old.
There is one issue that has caught my attention, and that is Proposition B, which would increase dog breeding regulations. I want to explain why I feel the way I do about this issue.
I am a native Missourian. I grew up in a small town surrounded by agricultural producers. When I was growing up, these people were farmers. Mostly these were men who wore bib-overalls and women who wore housedresses. Many of these farmers had only one or two Sunday outfits that they wore to church for worship, weddings and funerals. A major part of the value system I grew up with was based on agriculture values. We lived in concert with nature. Animals were only slaughtered for food for humans to eat. Had we all been vegetarians, there would have been no need to slaughter animals at all. Animals of all kinds lived under safe, humane conditions. Most family pets lived as well as their owners.
Some of today's agricultural producers wear three-piece suits, ride around in jets, and many, I suspect, have never looked a heifer or a sow in the eye. But whether individual or corporate producers, I can understand why they see Proposition B as a threat to their future bottom lines. Where I live, I witness truckloads of chickens packed into cages like dead sardines. People are sickened by such sights. But the inhumane treatment of chickens is legal so chicken breeders can let their consciences be their guides. In this case, we are talking about the housing of dogs in puppy mills and whether or not they should be housed under safe, sanitary conditions.
I, and individual producers that I know, favor keeping all animals under safe, clean conditions. I really don't want to go near producers who argue that this is the beginning of an attempt to put farmers out of business. They make me curious as to what kind of operations they are engaged in if keeping dogs in humane conditions causes them a problem. As things stand, do we all have to become vegetarians in order to stop the abuse of farm animals? In short, can we even trust the vegetables these people are producing? Are these so-called farmers protesting too much?
Personally, I don't trust people who abuse anything in nature. That comes from the agricultural value system that I learned as a child.
As much as some would like to believe the opposite, Missouri is not an "anything goes" state. We are the Show-Me state, where we say what we mean and mean what we say. In earlier days, we were proud to say that we fed the nation. And the farmers that lived around my family fed us, and they didn't have to abuse animals in order to do so. In days of feast or famine, our farmers didn't whine either. They just got up and went to work from sunup to sundown.
If farmers are not concerned about the well-being of the animals they raise, that tells me what kind of people they are, and I have no interest in changing them. In other words, I don't covet their souls. As long as they obey state and local laws, they are free to care for their animals any way they choose.
But I am grateful to have the opportunity to cast my vote in favor of the humane treatment of dogs. Americans today don't waste a chance to celebrate their freedoms. If people who call themselves farmers want to use their freedoms to treat their animals without regard to their safety and well being, there is nothing I can do about it. I don't have time to go around the state trying to teach people how to be human. If you don't learn that as a child, you probably never will.
People who want to breed dogs in dirty, unsafe puppy mills can go into another business. Maybe they can find work with some of these protesting farmers who seem to favor lower standards.
I'm glad I had the experience of growing up among farmers I could respect. The agricultural value system that taught me to appreciate nature has added great dimensions to my life. When I go into the polls and cast my ballot in favor of Proposition B+, I will be paying tribute to a well-learned lesson.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.