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There was a hostage situation at a school in Bailey, Colorado, yesterday. The media went a little nuts about it, I thought. I do wish they’d apply a little more restraint while incidents like this are still underway.

Anyway, one of the things that struck me happened at the press conference after the SWAT team had charged in and rescued all but one of the girls. Word was out that the hostage taker had died. A reporter asked if the man had shot himself or had been shot by police. The sheriff, who looked like a very decent guy, tried to dodge the question at first, but then mentioned, somewhat under his breath compared to the way he’d been talking, that the guy might’ve taken the coward’s way out. The sheriff caught himself quickly, adding that the matter was still under investigation, trying to smooth over something he wasn’t sure he should have said.

It’s stuck with me, though. I think, sometimes, that we should be more open these days – like we used to be – about curling a lip at cowardice. I think a lot of our current cultural messes, in fact, can be laid to cowardice, or at least to a ready acceptance of it.

It’s not put forth as the coward’s way out, of course. It’s advertised as putting yourself first. Of being true to your feelings. Whoopee. A rose by any other name…

Abortion? How many abortions are the result of a woman just not sure how to face the future, and being told that abortion will solve her problems? Is it not the coward’s way out? Shouldn’t it be recognized as that? I know that a whole lot of women feel later that they were cowards, taking that route. Shouldn’t women who are considering abortion be made aware that it might be hard to live with later? That they might find it hard to live with themselves later? That cowardly acts are shaky foundations on which to build a life? Shouldn’t they be encouraged to be brave, and resourceful, and resilient, instead of selfish and scared of their ability to measure up? Women, on the whole, are very resilient. So why do we allow feminists and so-called self-esteem experts to train us to be cowards? Heck, let’s not beat around the bush – to reward and praise us for being cowards?

Divorce? How many divorces are merely ignobly running off instead of facing problems and trying to solve them? I’m not saying that every marriage can be saved, or ought to be. My religious view is that marriage is a covenant and should be treated as such, but I know that people who don’t have faith don’t have the same sense of commitment to carry them through. Or the same approach to finding a husband or wife, which leaves them less likely to find someone willing to work things out. So many people see marriage primarily as a type of contract – that’s a mistake, to be sure, but if that’s what you’ve signed on for that’s what you’ve signed on for. But, still. So many divorces that I’ve seen seem to be nothing more or less than “it stopped being fun and/or financially rewarding” or “he doesn’t understand me anymore” or “she got fat” or something equally shallow. How many divorces are desertions in times of trouble, when the family really needs an “I’ll help” instead of an “I don’t need the bother”? Aren’t folks who bail out when they should be grabbing a bucket and bailing water to keep the family afloat cowards? (Not to mention spoiled brats?)

Well, I need to work on this a bit more. It just seems to me that a lot of what passes for self-esteem training in schools is nothing more than training kids to be cowards instead of compadres who can be counted on. Or that so much of what feminism promotes is nothing more or less than cowardly behavior all dressed up as something else. And don’t get me started on ‘assisted suicide’ or ‘mercy killing’ or ‘living wills’.

Well, as I said, I need to work on this theory a little more, test it some, see where it holds up and where it doesn’t. It just seems to me that cowardice has gotten a bit too mainstream for our own good, that we might be embarrassing our ancestors, so to speak. 


Yesterday was a bit strange for me. I have friends and associates from across the political and religious spectrum; I couldn’t help but notice that different camps were talking past each other. Some people were ridiculing anybody who held memorials that weren’t strictly about 9/11. Others were sneering at anybody who still wanted to commemorate the people killed that day. Some folks were doing the la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-because-I’m-singing-peace-songs-you-rotten-knave-drop-dead routine. Others were reaching out to others hurt in jihadi attacks outside the United States (that reaching out was good, in my opinion) – but often were sniffing at those who weren’t joining in their little chorus (which wasn’t good, in my opinion). People all over the board were trying to politicize the day. Or crying loudly for people to stop politicizing the day.

And yet. And yet. Not one person I met here when I went about my daily rounds made a peep about the fact that it was September 11. Not one. I suppose they’re like me, and have friends and relatives split, and just wanted a break from it. That’s a guess. Just a guess. Or maybe they were afraid they’d spark a conflict with a business associate. I don’t know. But the Internet, television, and my family behind closed doors, were turbulent – while outside, just around town, was absolutely serene. Who would have guessed?

Surprisingly, to me, amongst the people talking and/or being philosophical, no one seemed to be talking about something that was on my mind. September 11 changed the world, I think, but it also changed me. How about you?

Two things pop to mind.

Before September 11 I used to wonder if I could kill somebody, even in self-defense. After that, I knew I could kill in self-defense, or to save someone else. I understood evil better, and I was ready to fight it, now that it was real to me, and not just something abstract, something the stuff of fairy tales, long ago and far away.

I also felt guilty about having allowed myself to become a couch potato of sorts. The idea of policemen and firemen having to help people who were merely out of shape got under my skin. In a real emergency, they should be free to help those who are naturally disabled, not those of us who could be fit and able if we put our minds to it, I thought. And so I exercised. And still do, although I have to renew my dedication now and then. (Middle age isn’t necessarily as easy as it looks, kids.)

Isn’t there anybody else who thinks that, on the whole, there’s a toughness to this country that wasn’t there five years ago? I think there is. I can see the people who never would have joined the military in a 9/10 world, who have joined the military. Or the police. Or are firefighters. I see people speaking out who’d given up on speaking out.

I see the other side, too, of course. I see the renewed efforts to narrow the world for schoolchildren – ‘don’t run, kid, you might fall down!’ – ‘life is defined by sexuality!’ I see churches being eaten up from the inside as well as the outside, by moral relativists. The media, on the whole, hasn’t got the memo that they can build up as well as rip to shreds, not that I can see.

And yet. And yet. For all the backsliding and potholes and shrill blaming, I am quite sure I’m seeing the early fruits of those who saw 9/11 as a reason to fight not only the jihadists but the stench of some of our popular culture – not necessarily by taking it on in old ways, but by learning the skills needed to turn out a good product in both senses of the word. Sure, there’s a lot of rot still being produced. But I sniff changes in the air. Don’t you?

People who can’t get past PC gatekeepers in publishing have found ways around, haven’t they? Whether it’s blogs or print-on-demand or small publishers who want to leave the world a little better than they found it, there are ways around now. For that matter, some big publishers have broadened their offerings, I think, making room for new voices. Not all publishers. Not in all ways. But, in any case, you can buy books that might not have made it to the shelves before the world shifted five years ago.

Homeschooling has finally gained traction, hasn’t it? Some of this generation, and the next, and the next, won’t be fed the masculinity-bad, motherhood-is-for-losers, dead-white-guys-are-scum, America-is-the-problem, Marxism-just-needs-better-leaders lies that my generation was raised on. Hurrah for homeschoolers, and also for parents with kids in public school who stand up against the madness.

I sense changes. And strength where there used to be something akin to resignation. Don’t you?

September 11 has become something of a New Year’s for me – a day to step up to the plate and take steps toward making or keeping resolutions. This year, amongst other things, I’m starting this blog so I can express my opinions and make various and sundry observations while sparing my family what embarrassment I can.

Ponderosa Hill, you might have guessed, is not my name. But I like to ponder things, I live in the mountains, and my first choice for blog name was taken. 😉

I haven’t decided yet how much to tell about myself. But just so you have some idea, I’m a happily married, middle-aged American woman who lives somewhere west of the Mississippi.

September 2006
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