Whiting column: Acknowledging that reality is our best strategy for 2023

Bryan Whiting
Personal Responsibility

Life can be tough and frustrating. 

But, improving ourselves and our situation doesn’t have to be difficult or complex.  

It’s often as simple as reminding ourselves what we already know but have forgotten. We often misplace our focus or allow the wrong people to affect us.  

We often feel too busy or stressed, but, in reality, we may feel that way not because we are doing too much but because we are doing too little of the right things. It’s easy to let ourselves be occupied, mentally and physically, by items that aren’t that important or significant. 

We often surround ourselves with the wrong people and allow ourselves to be negatively impacted by them. Most people who hurt or disparage us don’t care about us. Consequently, we need to let it go. It’s the power of forgiveness. It lets us off the hook. Why let someone who doesn’t care affect us, control us?  

People of character, whether it be ourselves or others, are the people of consequence in the world. They do what is best for all in the long term instead of what is best for themselves in the short term. Think of the older person planting a tree knowing they will never sit in the shade it will eventually produce; the teacher spending time after school with a student; the employer spending money on a building remodel instead of buying a new car — character elements often absent in our politicians.  

Character involves helping those who need it, in whatever fashion required. As a child, Dad and I were driving from Cody to Laramie on the Shirley Basin Road. We came upon folks who had hit an antelope. Dad stopped. We helped them move the carcass, change the tire and get the fender off the wheel, so it would drive. After we were back in the pickup, I asked, “Did you know them?” “No, it’s winter, and there may not be another car by today.” Nothing heroic; just action. 

Today, we see citizens and media more interested in filming a car wreck, fire or other catastrophe than helping victims or preventing further harm. The Denver Post reported two people broke into a car in a large hotel’s parking lot at 7 p.m. The police received the report from the owner of the car at 8 a.m. the next morning. Surveillance video showed 14 people walking by the perpetrators — including the hotel clerk — leaving to go home after their shift. No one reported it, let alone tried to stop it. 

Occasionally, we need reminding that our character involves doing what needs to be done. One summer day, Dad told me to ride up and turn off the ditch in the upper field. There had been a rainstorm the night before; the field was wet enough. The route necessitated riding by the Snyder Appaloosa ranch. They kept their bred mares in their northern field, a mile from their house. A tree had blown down in the storm and took a portion of the fence with it. Two of the mares had found the spot and were out in the sagebrush. Upon my return, I was unsaddling when Dad walked up. I told him about the two mares and the fence. “Was it hard getting the mares back in the field?” he asked. My “uh” communicating that I didn’t, or fix their fence, was not met with pleasure, precipitating, “Did you want to wait until all the mares were out?” I was picking up my saddle before he finished. 

Our personal contact with others takes time and may seem stressful, whether it be at work, home or in public. We demonstrate character in our manners and how we communicate with them — especially when their words might differ from ours. It’s easy to be vindictive or mean and may feel good in the short-term, but nothing meaningful is accomplished, and the divide is usually expanded.  

It’s difficult to remember that, instead of judging and reacting first, to wait. Ask questions, be curious, try to understand what they are saying and why they are saying it. Fully listening first minimizes their emotion and often encourages them to listen to us. It’s not easy to wait and be last, but it’s the best route. If we work to understand what they are meaning and why they believe such, we know better how to convince them or accept the possibility they are right. At the least, the chances of an effective compromise and agreement are increased.  

We are born with many trails in front of us. Initially, our parents choose which we take. But, as we get older, more choices are ours. We eventually are personally responsible to choose our own path, determining what we do and who we are. In our life, we will go by many trailheads. All are available to us, and we choose which to take. When we die, we end up being known for the ones we chose.  

We leave our brand on everything we do, and a branding iron isn’t necessary.  

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: 

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