A Few Thoughts on Rodeos

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I was heading to a rodeo as a piece of the family reunion going on at the time. (Pretty busy the last few days, so I’ll be playing catchup with some of these posts over the next few days–plenty of blog fodder, and I didn’t have enough time to post about them.) I’d been to rodeos growing up, but it had probably been fifteen years or so since the last time I’d went. A few thoughts sprang to mind as I was watching it.

First up, I was surprised by the song they played before the national anthem. I’m not a country music listener–I try to avoid it at all costs. Just too twangy for my tastes, but I never really thought it would be disturbing. However, this song . . . taught me otherwise. I can’t remember all of the lyrics, but the sentiment was very clear: America is awesome, and if anyone ever tries to attack us, we’ll kill them all. More or less.

I lived in Germany for two years, and Germans are very cautious about patriotism. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a fan of loving your country, but at the same time, I think there are some reasonable limits that should be placed on that love. Nazism was all about love of country over everything else. Switch all the mention of America in that song with Germany, and you’d have a song Hitler would swoon for. Again, I’m not saying it’s bad to love your country. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be willing to defend your freedom as a country. But a lot of the patriotism I saw at the rodeo was in danger of going beyond that. When your love of country makes you start belittling other countries or giving yourself a massive superiority complex, you’re heading for trouble. It’s one of the reasons a lot of the rhetoric the Republican party uses these days leaves me uneasy.

So there’s that. First thought of the evening.

Second thought was about the rodeo itself. I know a lot of people object to rodeos on principle–worries about animal cruelty primarily. I think they certainly have a point. Those horses and bulls didn’t particularly seem to be enjoying what was happening to them. At the same time, however, I think our modern conveniences have enabled us to ignore or forget about where those red steaks wrapped in plastic come from before they arrive in the grocery store MEAT aisle. The skills rodeos focus on are the traditional skills used to manage all those animals. I think it’s veering toward hypocrisy to object to rodeos but happily munch on steaks that have been raised who-knows-where under who-knows-what conditions. I eat and enjoy said steaks, and I watched and enjoyed the rodeo.

But in the end, most of my evening was just spent enjoying time with family and watching my kids have a blast with their cousins. There’s only so much meta-thinking I’m capable of on a gorgeous evening out. Sometimes we can be so focused on analyzing things that we forget to actually have a good time.

Anyway–that’s what I’ve got for you today. I’m off to swim somewhere. Utah is way, way, *way* too hot. How do you people live here?

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