It has not been much more than 200 years since some dedicated men put their fortunes and their lives on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence.

I wonder if any of them wondered what this nation, for which they courageously risked all, would be like in 2018.

They would not have known that not all the nation’s people would be free, that some would be trapped in hopeless despair, impoverished in filthy inner-city ghettos, ruled by drugs and violence that they have little chance of escaping.

I like to think the way we live our lives in the Sand Hills would fit the image of liberty the signers of the Declaration had in mind. That is, that we all have the right to individuality and the concept that success or failure depends, in a large part, upon oneself. If you want something bad enough, you have a reasonable chance of achieving that goal with a sense of pride in a job well done.

It seems ranching and farming communities are the few remaining areas in which that trait, so deeply ingrained in the work ethic of the new nation, still exists. But then I suppose pride in one’s work has something to do with what he does and where he lives.

Awhile back a good friend gave me a thought to ponder when she said, “Imagine getting ready to go to a job you hate.”

Listening to the news makes me angry when I hear of reported government corruption and forced business takeovers by large corporations.

In apparent legal maneuvers where litigation is a way of life, the gears of justice seem to be greased by money. I get angry at judicial administrators’ twisted concept of our rights. I hear of the insane things some people do to others. Next door neighbors don’t know each other and don’t want to. I hear of forced starvation and ethnic genocide in the name of religion and I wonder if maybe the whole world is going crazy.

Life in the Sand Hills is far from being a bed of roses; if so, it would likely be the thorny part. I imagine most of us have known despair.

During one particular bad time of despair and self-incrimination, I concluded that since I am pretty much responsible for my own welfare, I could stay mired in that frame of mind or, if I wanted peace of mind, I could do something about pulling myself out.

At least, I have a choice, an option extremely difficult for some to achieve.

Whenever the going gets rough, we are goaded by being allowed an occasional, tempting glimpse of the silver lining.

I believe that we should constantly be thankful for our good fortune of living on this particular spot on earth.


Willard Hollopeter writes from his home near Wood Lake in northern Nebraska.