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Inspire us, don't scare us

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I’d agree with recent criticisms that your paper has taken a turn toward political bandwagoning. It mirrors most of the endless stream of imploring letters from the Sierra Club/Wilderness Society/Audubon Society/Nature Conservancy/Public Land Trust/Trust to Save the Grand Canyon or Silvery Minnow or Spotted Perch, etc., that find their way to my door every week. I agree with these viewpoints (to a large extent), and with the sense of urgency with which they invoke donations, and I give money to these causes when I can.

However, this reporting is too much like the narrow, stuffy, scared reporting that grows out of boardroom discussions, from the head-heavy, weak-bodied, overweight insecurity and fear that drive the actions of most of our country. We live in a country crippled by fear, and therein lies our largest obstacle. We’re afraid of our neighbors, of our children, of ourselves. It doesn’t motivate or encourage; it’s not creative or confident or inspired. It is tired and reactionary and hollow.

Your paper once mirrored some of the rugged newness that the Western landscape inspires. It motivated by example, and thereby offered hope. It embodied a different way of management, the possibility of choosing a different path than that of the East. It talked about the face of the rural West, the face of ingenuity and creativity, of local solutions, of independence, of self-sufficiency, of land and community management. It once was a Western paper.

There are still examples of that reporting, and I seek them out in every issue. However, they are buried behind pictures of Wal-Mart and Supreme Court justices. The fact that your new paper received raving ovations from a board of directors should make you even more worried. Ed Abbey said something along the following: "I can be pretty dumb by myself, but for true stupidity it takes a board of directors."

Mike Rankin
Albuquerque, New Mexico

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