I recently saw a report on TV where they had taken a poll, and had the results of the states in the USA where the people were the happiest. Much to my surprise the number one state where the people were the happiest were the residents of North Dakota.
At first glance that seems impossible. New York fared somewhere in the 30s. I bet we would have scored higher were it not for New York City.
My father, the youngest son of Swedish immigrants living in Minnesota, went with his older brother to North Dakota, where there were many opportunities to build homes and barns for the German immigrants who had settled on the Dakota prairie. They built a home for a young husband and his bride on a 1,000 acre wheat farm. The bride had a younger sister who my father found quite beguiling. (More to come on that)
About 10 years ago my wife and I drove across the country to visit our nomadic children in Seattle, California and Colorado. We stopped in North Dakota to visit a relative of mine who still lived in the house my father had built for her father-in-law and his bride. There was on the property a ramshackle, fallen in shack.
I was told that was where the people had lived while their house was being built, and where my father had proposed marriage to my mother. My mother, the younger sister I referred to earlier, lived in a sod house nearby, built by piling prairie sod. Wood from forests had to be brought in. (These people must have been happy indeed with such a luxurious environment). I only know that my father and his North Dakota German bride were eternally expressive of their love, for each other, and for their children, one of whom I was fortunate to be.
I recall hearing stories of how they strung a rope from the house to the barn, so a person would not lose his way in going from one building to another during a winter storm. I remember my father telling me how the cold wind would drift snow so hard in the winter that they could drive a team of horses up onto the drift to get hay from the second story hay loft of the barn. The drifted snow was so hard they never worried about the horses or wagon getting stuck in the deep snow.
I guess one of the morals of the story is that mankind is not meant to live a life of ease and idleness. He is meant to challenge himself, to solve the problems he is confronted with. This establishes his own self respect, and assurance of his worth. Unearned idleness is more frustrating than appreciated.
We today are reaping the blessings that were acquired for us by our sacrificing, pioneering predecessors. If we think we have reached Nirvana we are mistaken. We have a long way to go to reach the essence of humanity in a world of peace and accomplishment that we are born to establish.
How can I be so confident of such foolishness? Because man has been wrestling through centuries of persecution and enslavement, while slowly, but constantly, making improvement in his status. If we can withstand the surge, attempted by those who would dictate our fate, we are on the edge of establishing the fulfillment of the dreams of every dry bone of our ancestor's sacrifice, who have dared to dream of the dominance of mankind over himself, without the tyranny of the despot.
The pinnacle of creation is humankind. We were never meant to suffer the irons of enslavement, or to serve the desires of self-aggrandizing tyrants.
It is part of our self realization and intelligence to recognize and celebrate our mutual destiny, in all of our variations, and to establish a world of fulfillment of our various abilities, in a wonderment of the completeness, and the accomplishment of human life.
May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org