— By LARRY M. JONES
Whatever the challenge, wherever the task at hand, I find it refreshing to see people doing their absolute best to ensure a job done well. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a brain surgeon or a garbage truck driver, there can still be pride in one’s work ethic.
Over the past few months, my wife Helen and I have enjoyed watching the mini-series Downton Abbey on television. Today’s wasteland of reality programming seems to see which show can be dumbed down to the lowest possible level. It has been refreshing to see a quality show such as Downton Abbey. For those of you unfamiliar with the mini-series, it is set in the World War I and post-war era. The story revolves around an aristocratic British family living in a stately country manor with a huge staff of servants.
From Lord Robert on down to the most menial laborer, each tier within the social structure comes with its own set of obstacles and goals. For the most part, each member tries to be the best possible within given constraints. Sadly, here in America far too many tend to favor entitlement over personal effort.
Being heir to the title of “dirt farmer,” over the years, I have been witness to very diverse methodology used in farming. Even when it was possible to be a successful farmer in Parker County, this was achieved only through backbreaking work, long hours, favorable weather, and perhaps the most important, confidence and pride in one’s effort. The farmer, not unlike any other entrepreneur, can never be guaranteed success, but if the task is highest priority, success is certainly more likely.
My brother, David, was one such farmer that gave his best during each crop year. Innovation in seeking new and improved techniques was always a part of the equation, but care in land preparation, planting, cultivation, and harvesting played the larger role – always attention to each and every detail.
Brother David’s fields often stood out from those of neighbors in that his rows were always the straightest, and the tillage was never neglected. He took great pride in being able to lay off rows that looked as if they had been marked with a laser or stretched string guide. I’ve heard other farmers scoff saying that you could get more seed in a crooked row than a straight one, yet I can assure you that deep down inside each of them was green with envy.
Pride in appearance or workmanship seems to be a dying aspect of the American culture. Check out the attire of the average Wal-Martian. Many look like they just finished giving the dog a bath. In the 1960s and ‘70s, patrons of the Navy Exchange/PX or commissary had to wear a shirt with a collar, shorts must be hemmed, and socks must be worn. That was a dress code more stringent than many adhere to in attending church today.
Perhaps it is partially because of my many years in a structured military environment, but I mourn the diminished standards for appearance, dress, behavior, and pride in a job well done so pervasive in today’s society. As I trudge along life’s highway, if I have a “long row to hoe,” I prefer that it be a straight one of which I can be proud when I’m through.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.