October 21st…“DO YOU HAVE A STORY ABOUT STANDING UP AGAINST THE ODDS FOR SOMETHING YOU REALLY BELIEVED IN?”
“If someone is old enough to bleed and die for this country, then they should be old enough to vote, too!!!”. So said this 17 year old Norwegian Farmer’s Son that day as I fixed myself some lunch from the refrigerator. The air between Dad, sitting at the kitchen table, and myself was laden with electric acridity. Having come from a farming background, our collision of ways, that day, could’ve been paralleled to two bulls in a pasture. The younger bull snorting his intense energy of youth as he swings his testosterone-powered horns from side to side. The older bull, much more seasoned, is not about to be bamboozled by the hoof-stomping charges to his seniority and stands his ground; head lowered and ready for the charge, if necessary.
Our heated argument that day had been over the new law of our land that granted 18 year old citizens the right to vote in elections. Previously, you had to be of the age of 21 to vote. My generation, at the time of the early 1970’s, was very passionate about the incongruity of being old enough to die in The Vietnam War for our nation, but not allowed to vote for what goes on in our nation.
“Awwww, yer just a KID!!! Still wet behind the ears, yet! You’re too young to know what’s good for ya, let alone think that you can be old enough to vote!”.…..so said our father that day. Our voices were now reaching a terse echelon of engagement! I was incredulous to the dichotomy of what Dad just said! Someone my age was “wise enough” to be obedient to their nation’s call to serve and possibly die in war, but NOT “wise enough” (after being educated for 18 years) to vote for what goes on in our great nation? I was “lowering my horns” for the charge of the young bull.
After another few barrages between us, Dad could sense that it was time for the patriarchal bull of the family to settle this issue…..at least for the moment. In response to another burst from my lips about this issue, Dad retorted, “WATCH IT, boy! You’re still not too big for me to take ya!!” “As long as you abide in this house, you’ll abide by MY laws!”
The maturity of the elder bull, my father, had won out over the immaturity and blustering blather of this young bull, me. Besides, I thought to myself, as I allowed the argument to dissolve back into daily life, what would I have gained if I HAD escalated the incident? What if it HAD come to a physical altercation between our family patriarch and myself? There would’ve been absolutely no honor in fisticuffs, or shoving or pushing. Any action like that brings only a muteness to any idealistic goal that one was pursuing in the first place. And, besides, I loved my father, Russell, too deeply to allow a forever wound to transpire between us. It was best to quiet down and honor him for his position as leader of our family and just agree to disagree on this subject.
So, my patience and acquiescence paid off, after all, because the next year (with that new law on the books) I was then 18 years of age and enjoyed the immense pleasure and responsibility of voting for the first time for the next President of our country. Such was the great experience for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.