Close mouth and open ears

Cyndi’s Two Cents

Close mouth and open ears


The most important tool a journalist puts to use is not the pen or the keyboard. It is the ability to keep his or her mouth shut and ears open. 

There is a great amount of unrest in rural America these days.  As I listen to farmers and waitresses, bank presidents and plumbers discuss the reaction to COVID-19 and its impact on the overall economy, there is undeniably one commonality in their complaint.  The common thread is the frustration that they feel that no one is listening to them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and probably again: I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, a Libertarian or a Martian.  What matters to me is that if you represent us, you should have the best interest of your collective constituents in mind when you participate in the lawmaking process in Washington D.C., in the statehouse, or in the county seat. 

As a lawmaker, how are you going to know what we think or believe if you fail to ask us what we think or believe?  When you do ask, you need to be prepared for our answers.  An elected official should only have one opportunity to make campaign promises that go unfulfilled.  I know that sounds a tad harsh, but these are harsh times in rural communities.  Nobody else is getting a free pass, so why should a state legislator or a county board member?

It is personally frustrating for me to know that any piece of legislation requiring one vote from each lawmaker could contain more than 1,000 pages.  Heck, it takes less than half a page to spell out the most important set of laws ever written. How can anyone representing our interests have a total understanding of the contents and the long-term implications of a piece of legislation of that magnitude without spending quite some time with it?  And furthermore, how can they be expected to vote on it without getting out and talking to constituents in local communities?

We must take responsibility for our own destiny, as well.  We need to make our voices heard. Apathy will get us nowhere.  We cannot just “go with the flow” if we truly want to keep our towns and our communities alive and prosperous.

We should demand transparency.

Like many of you, I am frustrated with the disconnect between those who make laws and those who must abide by those laws.  I am frustrated with the disconnect between producers and consumers.  I am frustrated.

You know that if you keep doing the same things the same way on your farm, you will get the same results.  Why should it be any different for those in congress or on the local school board or on the county board?

At what point do we stop taking what is given to us without asking questions?

Amidst the frustration, it is imperative to remember there are those who have listened and represented us well.  As we have the power to deny opportunity, we also have the power to give opportunity.

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