Snapshots in Time

Barb Wire

By Larry Leonard (BarbWire guest contributor)

Rudyard Kipling in Captain’s Courageous described one boy’s youth during one period of time as a misguided exercise in the misuse of power.  I don’t recall the name of the man who told me that a life is a journey on a railroad train that having emerged from an infinitely long and dark tunnel is traveling for a while in the light, heading for an infinitely long and dark tunnel not far ahead.  Experience is made of the scenes you can see changing out the windows.

It is a lovely soft grey pre-dawn in this far corner of the fable called Oregon, and a time when back in the day this now old man once began trout fishing trips instead of exercises inside perspective. A story has just come to mind.

Like all decent stories, it emerged out of a question — how are we going to get out of this mess?

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The editorial perspective is:  you are reading a magazine [Oregon Magazine] whose name is part of the history of these often damp coastal reaches, rich post-glacial farmlands and high tectonic peaks.  Once a celebratory operetta about the people things and places of Oregon, the contents these days have been shaped to discard most of the musical mix that shapes this performance into variations that comfortably say Oregon instead of Kansas or The Bronx.  No, the rich mix that for decades was made of those scenes in the train windows is now a movie made of politics.

I’d rather go fishing for trout inside a tunnel of Alder trees, but politics is the job of the day.  What once was a series of windows looking out on dripping ferns bordering metallic ripples next to curved tubes of grass hiding foot-long cutthroat trout is now a room made of dirty old paneling, containing  Uriah Heep men in legal robes using terms like justice, fairness and equality as weapons to enslave and degrade.  So, as it says in our statement of principles, we’ve got to wake up — to our founding beliefs.  Return to their sanity before we sink into a Soviet bureaucracy — and the last evidence this miracle ever existed is a memory of a sea monster’s belch emitted in an oceanic cafeteria that no longer exists.

Is There a God?

Damned if I know, but I suspect there is.  From the Big Bang to Last Wednesday a rule holds true.  It is rare for scientists to declare a cause without an effect.  You will never see one out the train windows, and that’s for sure.  Every now and then something considered myth in the official realms in charge of truth turns out to have a beginning in an actual, historical happening. Atlantis will one day be found.  There is such a gigantic body of evidence that there is evidence, that to close off the obvious requires one to crawl into a box and pull the lid shut. That is no way to live.  Any political system that requires hiding from evidence to the contrary stifles the very essence of human life, which is invention.

Except for children who have no experience or those who attended Harvard, there is a way out of this mess into which we’ve gotten ourselves, and it is probably right in front of us.  Probably, it’s called common sense, and is only invisible because it does not offer a profit to those who speak against profit.

So, this old trouter says to those with doubt and fear looming over them — your ship is named the Constitution.  The greatest aircraft carrier in the history of war was called the Enterprise.  You are an American, which is a condition shaped by the eternal God.  Victory is within your grasp and only you, yourself, have the power to let it slip through your fingers.

My principle suggestion to dealing with that problem is that we deny a high school diploma to any student who cannot pass the official U.S. Government citizenship test — physical/mental medical disability being the only exception.

Happy trout fishing to all.

Larry Leonard is Editor Emeritus for Oregon Magazine (

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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