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Monday, July 24, 2006

Because You're Not A Muskrat

More From My Continuing Frontier Education, or, In Order to Better Understand Freedom: The Ingalls' are now in Dakota, packed up and moved from their farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. This will be their last move, Ma insists, because the girls will have a formal education.

The government is giving a homestead, 140 acres, to anyone willing to brave the untamed, uncivilized frontier and farm the land for four years. Pa takes the bet and claims a beautiful patch of land. He plans to raise cattle on it. Buffalo once dominated that part of the country. They are gone, but their wallows still pock mark the prairie. He figures if the land was so good for buffalo, it will due for his cattle.

Mary is blind. Scarlet fever took her sight and her long, golden locks. Her head was shaved to bring down the fever, but it was too little too late. And that is that. She doesn't complain.

And so now, Laura is expected to become the school teacher. The money she makes will help put Mary through college for the blind. Laura can't stand schools, tight places, or strange faces. But she will go to school and learn because she has to for Mary. And that is that. She doesn't complain.

One day in late summer while Laura helped Pa stack hay, she spotted what looked to her another hay stack. Pa pointed out that it was a Muskrat house and then invites her to check it out with him. He explains the ways of the Muskrat to her and then says: "We're going to have a hard winter."

"Why, how do you know?" Laura asked in surprise.

"The colder the winter will be, the thicker the muskrats build the walls of their houses," Pa told her. "I never saw a heavier-built muskrats' house than that one."

"Pa, how can the muskrats know?" she asked.

"I don't know how they know," Pa said. "But they do. God tells them, somehow, I suppose."

"Then why doesn't God tell us?" Laura wanted to know.

"Because," said Pa, "we're not animals. We're humans, and, like it says in the Declaration of Independence, God created us free. That means we got to take care of ourselves."

Laura said faintly, "I thought God takes care of us."

"He does," Pa said. "so far as we do what's right. And He gives us a conscience and brains to know what's right. But He leaves it to us to do as we please. That's the difference between us and everything else in creation."

"Can't muskrats do what they please?" Laura asked, amazed.

"No," said Pa. "I don't know why they can't but you can see they can't. Look at that muskrat house. Muskrats have to build that kind of house. They always have and they always will. It's plain they can't build any other kind. But folks build all kinds of houses. A man can build any kind of house he can think of. So if his house don't keep out the weather, that's his look-out; he's free and independent."

I'm launching a movement to make the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series part of every public schooled child's education. Every boy and girl in this nation should be made to not only read the series, but discuss this profoundly American family and their lives- how they lived them, why they lived them- in classrooms, ponder the implications of the actions and choices made by the Ingalls and identify the philosophy motivating them.

But to stop there would be to stop short. Every child should also be required to identify opposing world philosophies and demonstrate how they motivate people and to what end, and for what purpose.

I am firmly persuaded such an education would eradicate the disease of socialism that infects our society to death inside of a generation and, more importantly, teach us what it means to be free and how to go about living in that freedom. It's not too late. It's not over till the trumpet sounds.

Contrast Pa's attitude with the demands from entitled socialists running our institutions today. Recently, with Israel at war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, our military rescued Americans living in Lebanon from the dangers of war. We hauled our naval ships over to the coast of Lebanon and ferried our citizens by helicopter to the island of Cypress where they were free and safe to make arrangements to get home.

You'd think they'd be grateful, but no. Many of these rescued proved what brats they were by complaining that the war ships took too long in getting to them, and besides the long delay, they asked with indignant fury "Why should we have to spend our own money getting ourselves home, anyway?"

The answer should have been immediately obvious to everyone: Because, you're not a muskrat. And taking care of yourself is as American as the Declaration of Independence. (See how easy life's most pressing questions become when placed into Pa's paradigm?) You're free to roam where ever you want over God's green earth and upon her blue waters. So, if you choose to locate near vermin and get caught in the cross-fire between terrorists and a sovereign state, that's your look out; you're free and independent.

by C. C. Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved

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