The top three winners in the 2015 Will Rogers Writing Contest come from varied backgrounds — one from Rogers County. Justin Alberty of Inola, Grand River Dam Authority communications director, claims second place.
Alberty, whose essay The Barefoot Approach is a philosophical view of human relations, is a blogger as well as part-time columnist and full-time with GRDA.
“Writing, public speaking and trying to help others share their stories are the things I enjoy the most,” he said.
Justin Alberty – Second Place
I can’t decide if all this being offended by anything and everything these days is just the way things are going to be from now on or if it’s all just a passing fancy. Nowadays, it seems we’re all obligated to be offended, and if we’re not, well somebody else even finds that offensive.
I suppose I could be as easily offended as the next guy, as long as that guy was raised up exact like I was. Truth is though we all sprout up from a different patch of soil with roots that seem to hold pretty tight to those spots where our seed first fell.
They say you need to walk a mile in the other guy’s boots to understand where he’s coming from, but my gut tells me we’d all understand each other better if we just went barefoot more often. At least that way we could all get a little closer to each other’s real foundations while putting a little more of our own on display. Besides, the best way to understand where your neighbor is coming from is by looking at what he’s stepped in along the way. If there is something unpleasant about him, you’ll likely smell it soon enough. And if he’s passed through the briar patches of life, you’ll see that too. It also works the other way around. Mostly what you’ll see is that you’ve got a lot in common.
I don’t reckon this whole barefoot approach to kicking aside our offensive nature and just accepting each other will ever really take off though. After all, too many of us are near-experts at putting on the polish and the shine and lacing up all tight and fancy. Then sure enough, somebody comes along and steps on our toes, even accidentally, and now we’re all scuffed and angry. My guess is what really offends us is not that any real damage was done but more so that they don’t seem to value where we stand as much as we do.
Of course it’s the politicians up in Washington, D.C. that are always trying to tiptoe around anything that might offend their constituents while at the same time keeping the polish fresh on their own proverbial shoes. When campaign season rolls around, they’re back home telling the voters just how “barefoot” they aim to be if only we’ll send them back to Congress, but after that, some of them move so fast you can’t get a good look at their feet anyway.
I grew up in God’s country, out there between the Grand and Verdigris rivers, and I know there’s a lot of good ground in Oklahoma. I think it needs to be carried up to the nation’s capital on the feet of some Congressman who’s not afraid to really go barefoot. I can’t think of a better way to travel through Congress than by tracking in the evidence of where you’re really from and then owning up to it when others get a look at it. Trouble is, most politicians these days seem to be more worried about offending the other guy with their tracks than they are about leaving their mark.
Like I said before, this whole offended society we’re living in has got me confused and left me scratching my head. In fact, maybe I’ll just to take off my shoes and scratch my feet instead.
That won’t offend anybody, will it?
-by Justin Alberty