Editorial: September 2017
High hopes, deep respect for rural way of life
My family loves to camp.
On one of our recent camping trips, we stayed at Beaver Lake State Park, near where Sarah and I grew up. This gave us a chance to reconnect with family and friends, and helped our children get better acquainted with a part of the state that’s very special to us. As is usually the case, the weekend went much too fast and then it was time to pack and head for home.
During this camping trip, my family and I were able to attend Sunday service in the little country church I attended as a child – St. Michael’s Catholic Church near Linton. Reflecting on this little white church on the prairie, I considered it remarkable that it has been serving parishioners for more than 100 years, and continues to do so today.
As my family entered the church, we saw something that, to me, is also impressive: nearly every pew was taken. This church was full of families, young children and multiple generations of people who share a commitment to their church, to agriculture and their community. These are families who, like great-grandparents of a century ago, decided that they want to have the quality of life that our rural areas provide.
From this experience, I took away the affirmation that young people can and will stay, live and work in our rural areas. It takes genuine economic opportunity, and young families will seize those opportunities for the good quality of life for which rural North Dakota is known.
This year, the spirit of community that binds rural people together is being tested. Mother Nature is known to throw stern challenges at us, and this summer, the challenge has come in the form of a brutal period of hot, dry weather. Crop yields are sure to be down in all areas, where there is even anything to harvest.
But to all who are struggling out there, please know that we who serve and work with you have sincere concern over your plight. Your livelihood is important to the well-being of communities, our cooperatives and our country. Our prayers and good wishes for relief and assistance are going your way. In addition, we want to be sure the voices of struggling farmers and ranchers are heard and heeded.
Those who produce the food our nation and world consumes continue to be the backbone of our country. For all who know the rural way of life in North Dakota is special, it is once again time to join in sending that important message.