Dear Ashley and SiriusXM The Highway,
When I first heard about Ashley’s on air comment about the recent devastating fires in MY state I was furious. I’ll be quite honest, my first thought for this letter was a completely different direction because just like so many others, I too wanted Ashley’s job on a silver platter. After a few minutes of reflecting (and a tub of ice cream) I decided that I would choose grace for Ashley instead of my original plan.
You see Ashley, at first I was going to say “How dare you make a mockery of this heartbreaking tragedy that has literally taken away generations of blood, sweat and tears poured out into building what was lost?” Instead, I will trade that out for “Did you know that despite the tragedy and what we lost, I have seen neighbors across the panhandle and more importantly multititudes of states come together and rebuild what was burned away in an overwhelming way for each other? Do you know why we do that? Because God has called us to love one another as God loves us. When it comes to agriculture, we love each other so boldly that we will literally give you the food off of our plates to make sure your family is fed even before ours is fed. That’s just our way of life. Do you know what it’s like to love your neighbor like that?”
I was going to say, “How dare you liken our lost livestock as “bbq for everyone” when you don’t really know the damage that truly amounts to?” Some gave more than just dollar values for their livestock in these fires. Instead I will ask you, “Do you know what value we place on this way of life around here? Do you know how much effort goes in to raising livestock?” I want to really explain this point to you, Ashley. Our animals, our livestock, our farms and our ranches are where we raise our families, cultivate our memories and produce the food and clothing necessary for our family and yours, too. We will do everything in our power to protect our way of life starting with our families and ending with our farms. I want you to know how brutally heartbreaking and gut-wrenching it is to see your livelihood literally burned out from underneath you and how devastating and utterly agonizing it is to see your livestock suffering because of the tragedies like fire. More importantly, I want you to know the pure joy it is to see even the smallest slivers of hope because maybe one or two head of cattle were left unscathed or because you had a neighbor to lean on in your darkest of moments.
I was going to say, “Aside from all land, possessions, livestock and livelihoods, why, why, why on God’s green earth would you joke about something that resulted in the loss of human lives? Seven of them to be exact. It’s simply not funny.” Truth be told I didn’t have a counter question for this one, Ashley. What I do know is that with the tragic loss of Cody, Sydney, Sloan and the others, their communities have gathered around each of their families to pray for healing and strength to get them through the next season of life. Ashley, I would never wish any ill will on you, but I do hope one day you understand what it feels like to be loved in a big way, just like these familiesare receiving now.
Ashley, I don’t know you or your background. What I do know is this, sometimes people say things that they don’t mean when they don’t fully understand what they’re talking about. My hope in writing you this letter is so that you may understand what it feels like to truly to deal with a tragedy like a wildfire. So next time you want to describe a Texas (or Kansas, Colorado or Oklahoma—we’re in this together) bbq, you might just want to come visit us for some good old fashion cooking instead.
One always panhandle proud agriculturalist