In several ways, this past weekend was wonderful. We finally celebrated Christmas with my family. Our kids had lots of time to play with their cousins, go ice skating, and build snow forts – there’s actually some snow up north.
    At the same time, it wasn’t a good weekend at all.
    Daphne came down with influenza. The last thing we needed was another health issue in our family.
    Our legislators failed to reach agreement on funding (and a number of other issues that were injected into the funding bill) and the government shut down, albeit briefly. The government shutdown and the partisan politics it illustrates were disappointing more than anything else.
    And then the Vikings lost to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. The loss itself was depressing, but then the news was filled with reports about the disgusting behavior of the Eagles’ fans at the game.
    These last two events – the government shutdown and Philadelphia’s terrible fans – have me thinking that our country is in desperate need of a healthy dose of rural values.
    Kids who grow up on farms, or grow up working on their neighbors’ farms, learn early on the value of working hard and working until all the chores are done.
    I had surgery a month ago and have been on strict light duty since then. Dan and Monika have been helping Glen with barn chores as much as they can. Their extra time in the barn has provided them with some important learning opportunities.
    One day, Dan and Monika decided they would switch chores with each other. But they didn’t check with Glen to make sure that was OK. We had a good discussion about that decision later. I asked them to fast-forward 20 years and pretend they were working for a boss who’s not their dad.  That boss, I explained, would need to approve a job switch in advance; bosses assign jobs to the employees they feel are best suited to complete the task.
    We also had a discussion about what to do if you finish your chores early. Don’t just come back to the house, I told them. Check with the boss to see if there are any other jobs you can help with before your shift is done.
    Farm kids also learn how to work together with people they don’t always get along with: their siblings. We all learned that sibling squabbles were no excuse for failing to finish our chores.
    Our elected leaders could learn a thing or two from farm kids about setting differences aside to work together and working hard until the work is done.
    Likewise, the Philadelphia Eagles’ horrible fans could stand to spend some time with rural kids and learn a few things about respect and gratitude.
    I’m not sure why rural kids seem more respectful and grateful. Maybe it’s the prayers we say at night. Maybe it’s the behavior expectations we hold them to. Maybe it’s the small, close-knit communities in which they’re raised, where every parent is as likely to correct poor behavior as a child’s own parents.
    Whatever the reason, Philadelphia’s fans clearly need more of it. Instead of showing gratitude for their team’s successful season and respectfully welcoming visitors to their town, their behavior was exactly the opposite.
    I believe strongly in understanding current events, but reading the news these days is disheartening, especially when the news is filled with humanity’s worst behavior.
    Perhaps someday we’ll find a way to infuse our rural values into the rest of the country. Until then, I’ll just keep doing my best to make sure my own children understand the value of work ethic, respect and gratitude.