Friday, August 7, 2009

An Open Letter To The Grange Brotherhood

I would like to share with you some thoughts in the hopes of smoothing things over and tamping down any tensions that may have inadvertently arisen between us. I hope this letter finds you -- all of you -- in good health and in good spirits. May the good Lord mightily bless you as you go forth with all your efforts in making the rural areas of this great country safe for yourselves, travelers, and others.

I address you today, dear friends, as one whose family has shared in the grange heritage. My grandparents, whose names were recorded in the Grange Book of Life a long time ago, probably the 1920s, '30s, '40s, or '50s -- in there somewhere -- had many a fine time participating in grange activities. And while I don't know everything that went down back then, of course, I always heard them speak in the highest terms of the grange lifestyle and even of your own Brotherhood by name.

What I can personally recall of the Grange Brotherhood is very vivid in my imagination from the time I was a child. To me the Brotherhood was like something from story books. I heard the tales of masked Brothers riding through the night so many times that it all became mashed together with other adventure stories, like Zorro and the Legend of the Headless Horseman. I remember waking up many a night in a cold sweat after one terrible recurring dream of one of the Grangers with a sword point at my throat, laughing maniacally, his face alternating, as things in dreams do, between a normal man's face and the face of a devil.

There would be plenty of times as a child that I was afraid to go to the country. I used to tremble when I realized the world wasn't a vast city but instead had all these wild places where Grangers could be hiding, waiting to waylay a horse thief, a city slicker, an educated interloper, or a child ripe for sacrifice. With the stories I heard, and I can still see Grandpa's face lit up by a flashlight under his chin, I couldn't believe anyone could be a horse thief. Because so many of his tales involved your training and sending forth of horses for assassinations and worse. It was all quite notorious. To this day I'm convinced that we have more people in the city than there are in the country simply because people are afraid of horses.

I hope you will forgive the wild fantasies of a child. How many times I prayed that the Grange Brotherhood would be swallowed up by quicksand! Or that the Cavalry would free the country from what I perceived to be your death grip. I would guess that little children in Afghanistan or Pakistan today have the same feelings about terrorists there. My heart goes out to them because I know the feeling very well!

But now I am a man, all grown up. And I am responsible for my own thoughts, with stories and hearsay to be set aside. Now it's up to me to make my own evaluations and to guide myself accordingly. This week, if there's been any tensions between me and the Brotherhood, I will say I believe a lot of it has come about because I've brought forward with me so many of those opinions from childhood. But with serious reflection, as I've engaged in as well, I'm starting to remember less dramatic stories of great benevolence on the part of the Grange Brotherhood as well. Stories of bringing in the crops, shingling barns, taffy pulls for crippled children, advocating for horses suffering from saddle sores, and the like.

As you may know, especially from this week and the things I've said on this blog, and other things you have perhaps gleaned from the efforts of your vast network of informants, I am something of a group dynamics expert. Being such, I'm able to piece things together of social organizations, whether through objective, empirical evidence or intuitive leaps. So I know that your purposes center in on maintaining your way of life, keeping the old ways alive, letting tradition keep its place of pride.

Perhaps you remember the slogan of the electronics firm, Zenith, which was, "The quality goes in before the name goes on." That is so true and I think applicable today. And while I haven't seen a Zenith appliance outside a Goodwill store for at least 25 years, a quick Google search reveals they're still in business, the lone surviving Zenith brother feverishly making spare parts for these antiques so that indeed their 'name will go on.' That's tradition for you, the right kind of pride!

I've gone on longer than I expected. So I must close.

Let me assure you, dear Brotherhood, that I hope whatever tensions have arisen this week are now eased. And that any relations we have from this point on will be pleasant and mutually profitable. I don't want or expect any trouble from you. And I say this in spite of your reputation. People can change when a sincere hand of friendship is truly extended, as mine is.

Tonight is the grange dance. I expect to be there. And I hope to share with you the warm fellowship that is only fitting between those with your rich integrity and someone like myself, whose family was always proud of our connection to the grange and the Grange Brotherhood itself.

Sincerely yours, Your Faithful Servant, &c.

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