Daryl Felsburg and Shane Plummer discussing politics
Daryl Felsburg & Shane Plummer

Politics & Passion

Politics. It’s a strange thing to write about, but it’s fresh on my mind. This is probably not really what you are thinking, even though this is a presidential election year; albeit, that has been on my mind lately, too.

I mean, gosh, you’d have to be living under a rock to not be bombarded with political ads right now. It gets old, real old. When I was a kid, I remember “Chicken Little” and the “sky is falling” story. I looked it up, and in other parts of the world it is called “Henny Penny.” Hysteria and disaster await us unless we act now!

Last month, I attended the biggest fancy breed pigeon show held annually in the U.S., known as the National Pigeon Association Grand National. There were more than 5,000 pigeons shown from more than 100 breeds.

Those that know me, know that I love pigeons. My favorite breed is the Modena. As a matter of fact, I am currently the president of the National Modena Club.

At this annual show, our club — and I’m sure all the other specialty clubs — held our annual membership meeting. I presided over the meeting, and as you can see by the photo, it was a great time!

This photo was taken by my friend, Daryl Felsburg, the other individual in the picture. He is a professional funny man, and I do mean that. He gets paid to be funny as a comedian and speaker. I’m certain he thought I’d get a kick out of this photo after he texted it to me, and he was right. It shows my physical reaction to my love of politics.

At the moment this photo was taken, you see, there were a number of four-letter words being said, raised voices, red faces. This was for a small pigeon club, and lively discussion on policies for club business and exhibition. As silly as that might seem to an outsider looking in, it surely isn’t silly for those in the club. Why? Passion.

All involved that day truly care about the health, viability and success of our club. Some might think we are a little nutty to love pigeons, and probably rightly so. But what about horse people? Same boat. Maybe it’s not a boat; it is a much bigger ship.

Going to the fair and watching people show — whether it’s cattle, pigs or sheep — is kind of strange for city folk. Presiding at that pigeon club meeting, it might appear I was downtrodden. On the contrary, I love and respect the passion people feel for that which is important to them. What I personally prefer is good decorum and open debate of ideas.

I’ve been involved with National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) politics off and on for 15 years. During that time, I have seen some major hot-button issues requiring immediate attention and also issues that are more of tinkering with policy and governance … here a little and there a little.

I was a director. I have sat on a number of committees, and even served as chair a few times. They were all good experiences. I sit on one now. We have conference calls every few months, and then have opportunities to address situations that arise or problems that need solving when need be.

Most of the time, these things are simple and quality communication unifies consensus; however, I have also seen the extremely taxing stuff that takes politics and a lot of effort to persuade decision-makers.

All of this stuff takes time and effort, and comes with the realization that you are doing all of it as an unpaid volunteer. Frankly, if you are only doing it to be self-serving, I vote you stay at home. If you’re willing to listen and debate, come on in! Don’t forget your passion … you’ve got to have passion.

I do not know many people that enjoy politics, unless they profit from it or are egomaniacs, yet I still believe there are the rare few who are servant patriots. They might be harder to find lately, though. I have found a few, but I’m not going to name them here.

We are all affected by politics, at all levels. What I find humorous are the “blinders” each of us wear. There are just some issues that are so sensitive and sacred in nature that they cause us to close our ears and close our eyes, but open our mouth — and, for some, open it quite wide and loud — for that which we hold so dear! You all know folks like that. If we are being truly honest with ourselves, we know our own hot-button issues. For some, dare I say, “golden calf.”

The funny thing is, I reckon we agree on about 75% of stuff. Who doesn’t want prosperity, clean air and water, good education for our children, modern infrastructure, fiscal responsibility, safety? We all do. Who doesn’t want quality ground to show on, as much prize money as possible to win and a place where you can feel competitive rather than just donating to a class? Of course, we all do.

What we disagree on are the fundamentals that get us all what we want, that 75% of stuff. The other 25% of things we are probably never going to agree about. We are blessed to live in a country that has a system that allows us to resolve our differences. There have been and still are places in which those systems simply do not exist. Wow, aren’t we blessed?

Finding common ground should be our starting point, rather than taboo subjects that create a sense of panic and fear. “The sky is falling!” If everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency. Keeping our passion while still having common sense and civility … that is a worthwhile goal, I think.

I’m old enough now to have gained some experience. I can see the merit in Reagan working with O’Neal. For Clinton, it was Gingrich. I am right, you are wrong and scorched earth for everything in between isn’t very helpful. It is nigh impossible to work with someone that opposes you if you have contempt for them in your heart. At least, that is the way I see it. The golden rule and two great commandments, they haven’t expired. They never will.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime!” Ever heard that before? Yeah, me too. Me too. Every. Single. Time. Isn’t every election the most important one of our lifetime? We can only change the last one, with a new one …

The politics of pigeons, horses or our nation’s foreign policy can all be placed in the same box if you think about it objectively. I’m going to keep my passion and do my best to keep my emotions in check. If you are having a bad day, go ride a horse. You’ll feel better, I promise.

Anyone that has ever worked with a horse knows full well, passion can take you far if you keep it well bridled.