This man had put the fear of God in countless people who grazed on public lands. His intellectual, preppy look topped off by his wire rim glasses, toussled hair, and Sun Valley mailing address made him even more ominous to the people who raised cattle and had farmed this land for generations. Granted, not everyone had been there for a hundred years, but most of them had been born here. All they knew was farming grass, harvesting sunlight, and herding cows. This was their passion, their fire in the belly, their livelihood, their culture, their history, their legacy, and their way of life.
I'd never known a cowboy or rancher until I met Okie. He was just what I thought a cowboy might be too. He had a perfect Wrangler butt, long,lean legs, beer cans tumbled out his door whenever he got out, and he always wore a black wide brimmed hat, spurs, and the biggest belt buckle you ever did see. I didn't dare look to see what the buckle was for because he may have gotten the wrong idea. The temptation to concentrate my eyes on his buckle reminded me of sending a very well endowed girl who was inappropriately dressed on a Wall Street job interview for a secretary position. When she reported back after the interview she said the man had asked her, without taking his gaze off her cleavage, if they could type. I was an employment agent for about five minutes right after college - in the hopes that I'd see the first job openings come across my desk. My hopes were right and an opening directed me straight to the world's largest public rleations firm which began my professional career. I've always been grateful to that short lived job, and the good laugh from that secretary applicant. There was one more thing worthy of mentioning however...
The Yankees won the World Series that year, and the ticker tape parade went right past my office. I stood in the street cheering as they passed. It was always exciting, no matter how often they won. This time, however, Reggie Jackson caught my eye - or perhaps I should say, I caught his, a chicken and egg thing I guess - and he locked eyes with me and would not let go. He stared at me with those damn bedroom eyes for as long as I was within his sight. I've never been one to make eyes at a man to this day. It's something I find disrespectful and inappropriate in most cases since we never know if the other person is in a relationship, and we do know if we are. Nevertheless, this time was different.
It wasn't that my ego was stroked exactly, although I'm sure that was also true. It was that he thought I was worth staring at in the midst of that gigantic crowd. I realize that only sounds like my ego talking, but it wasn't that. It was more than that. It was more an experience of feeling seen, noticed, not invisible. And valued. It was much more to me than being flirted with. It may not have been anything more than that to him, but it was to me. He has great eyes...and I have a sweet, simple memory. By the way, the Pope smiled and looked me straight in the eye once too but that wasn't the same. Just sayin.
It seemed as if conscousness, as a whole, might take a giant step forward and set off the hundreth monkey theory, in theory, in the mid seventies, but something else happened instead.
When the entire country was weary from fighting in the war, or from fighting to end the war, we were also on the heels of a period that changed how Americans looked at the world. It was the first time since the Civil War that people were breaking from traditions, and beginning to claim their own voices in regards to spirituality, politics, and other areas that offered choices.
The American fabric had been laid, with three generations of immigrants settled into the American culture and first generation Americans being assimilated into the American cultures, moving away from the immigrant neighborhoods. The communities where thier immigrant parents concentrated allowed for the preservation of the cultural traditions they cherished, such as religion and the various national customs specific to each country. It also helped preserve and pass down their native language to one more generation. However, as soon as they left this community and assimilated into the broader American culture, the chances of preserving more than some simple customs and holiday traditions were minimal. Mixed marriages, two careers, families and the demands of every day life would overshadow the discipline required to carry on traditions and language of the past unless there was a stronger network of support nearby.
As these first generation immigrants began to blend into the greater culture, there were other factors at work too. Aside from the social
Marvel's activism and hostile approach polarized against the rancher's defensive stance created an opening, a space for me to do what I had been called to do at that moment in time. There was no more a contentious environment in the public lands conflict than the situation in Idaho with Marvel. His lawsuits threatened the livelihood of an entire generation of rancher's throughout the state. This was not simply one man trying to improve grazing land. This was much deeper. Marvel had a vindictive, hostile, angry, revenge filled desire to destroy these people.
One of his 'followers' named Katie Fite, and who also worked as a FIsh and Game officer for the state of Idaho, accompanied me on a range tour of the Black's grazing land in southern Idaho one afternoon. There were 30-40 of us, environmentalists, rancher's, government land managers, Tribal members, etc. and she pulled me aside and said, point blank, as she pointed down the mountain, "If I could have my real wish, I's like to bomb the town of Bruneau and Murphy and kill every single person that lives there and start fresh."
I just stood there stunned.
Just as Marvel created a space for me to work in, we create spaces to allow all things to happen in relationships, even love. When there is no opening, clearing, or an uninhabited space for people to meet in that is free from clutter, baggage, beliefs, worldviews, there is little hope for an authentic healing. THere is little hope for clarity and the power that comes from true resolution. It is only in a spcae like this that we can make a declaration of committment to peace. Everything else becomes an idea, a contract, a solution that is added to something that already exists...and it is cluttered and depowered. It cannot own it's own creation, its own resulution...it cannot be itself. It is only compromise, or a contract - it does not have the participants full engagement that is born from mutual creation.