Like I've said before, I try to keep this column light and easy. It's supposed to be about fishing and having a good time.
But, since my column of two weeks ago came out ("Were You Talking To...Me? ) http://www.wonews.com/Blog.aspx?id=1284&AuthorID=59049&t=Were-you-talking-to...me? hit the internet and the WON, my wife and I have been flooded with perhaps several hundred e-mails and letters.
If you don't recall, that last column re-counted some of the problems Jill and I ran into during our 3-month tour of the fishing and outdoor shows from January to March. During that time, we ran into a surprising number of very vocal and angry folks who vented at us for representing a fishing business in Mexico. ("You people should all just be killed!")
It got testy. It got chippy. It nearly came to blows several times. After doing hundreds of shows, this was a first. It happened at least several times in each city where we exhibited...Denver, Portland, Long Beach, Boise, Billings, Sacramento, Salt Lake and others.
We received so many incredible comments. So many articulate insights. Some angry. Some frustrated. Some puzzled. Some surprised. I did my best to write each and every writer a personal response. Jill and I are grateful.
I wish there was a way to share with you everything that was sent to me.
But, let's put some closure on this and let me give you my take on it so we can move on back to having some fun!
I have some great ideas as to why people are so angry. But looking back, I don't think it was personal. Jill and I were just handy targets in our booth. I'm brown and "tropical looking!" "Come fish in Mexico!" That was enough to get some people's hackles up, like waving a red flag in front of an already pissed-off bull.
In the letters we received, greater minds than my little coconut brain dissected the actions in a million different ways sociologically, economically, racially, geographically, religiously...but let me give my own simplistic two-cents.
There will ALWAYS be un-informed/ mis-informed/ mis-guided knuckleheads in the world. We ALL just have to be a little more tolerant of each other. Seems in shorter and shorter supply. Even I need to work on it more.
In the U.S., especially with the internet and all the free-flow of information, you can find a myriad of support for just about any cause or idea you can come up with. Whether it's white supremacy, death penalties, immigration or whether you should fish for wahoo with wire or whether carp are good to eat...there's probably a zillion websites to support that viewpoint no matter how wacky it may seem.
We got some incredible letters from readers who are African-American/ Asian-American/ Mexican-American who told me they've endured this kind of thing all their lives. We got letters from Muslim-Americans who told us stories of their own nightmares since 911. I got letters from Japanese-Americans who reminded me of their parents or family members during WW2 who were incarcerated in the internment camps...just because they were of Japanese ancestry.
We surely have a way to go.
There was quite a bit of finger-pointing in the letters. The media. The economy. The lack-of-education, etc. But only one letter dropped this bomb and it related the opinion of a simple Mexican deckhand...
"Maybe the Americans should take some responsibility of their own. They are the ones buying and using the drugs. They are the ones selling the arms. The cartels are all fighting over American dollars!"
Wow...alot of truth in that one. I'm in my 50's but I had to think of how many of my friends still "roll one" just to "relax." How many tell me they still do the occasional "line of blow." I know dozens of folk who wink at me and smile and tell me they got "special medical papers" that allow them to purchase marijuana "no problem." (wink wink). How often have I turned down a client who asked if I knew where they could buy some "mota?" Or have I smelled that fragrance coming from under a hotel door.?
Lots to ponder.
God bless America that folks have the right to differing opinions and can express themselves. It's not like that in other countries. Even in Mexico. You can think differently, but often, it's suggested you keep it to yourself. There's consequences.
So, with free speech, you gotta take the bad with the good. (I just wish people didn't need to express their opinions while shouting at me and jabbing their finger 2-inches from my face or needling my wife!) But, so be it.
Listen...the bottom line. It's a minority of knuckleheads out there. Most folks, especially in this industry have the best hearts on the planet. Jill and I are blessed and grateful that we're normally surrounded daily by more smiles and grimaces running our fishing business in La Paz. Can't ask much more than that!
As one letter stated, we get to "spread smiles one fish at a time!"
Amen to that. Thanks to all of you! Thanks Pat McDonell and WON for the backup. Next column...back to fishing the Baja!