---Select commentary from a weekly column by Curt Arens published in the Cedar County News, Hartington, NE

Feb. 2010

Rural Compassion

Dear Friends,
I like to think that most folks living around here treat each other pretty well most of the time. We have a tendency to know our neighbors, to look in on those who need a little help, to attend and participate in all of the great events in our lives together, including births and baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, reunions and funerals, not to mention lots of birthday parties in between.

We enjoy gathering and celebrating as a community. Generally, we like each other and it shows. County fairs and church bazaars become social gatherings, allowing families and friends to catch up with each otherís lives.

Around here, knowing and caring about each other is not nosiness. It is compassion and friendliness. We like working together, whether it is vending at farmersí markets or working a community garden, sharing produce with neighbors, working at church and school functions, or volunteering at the senior center. We combine work and socializing, and we create lasting bonds that cannot be broken.

I thought about all of these things as we sent my father to his final resting place last week. The friends and families who mourned the passing of this great family farmer, conservationist, spiritual and family mentor with us, were the same folks who we have mourned the passing of others with over the years.

My Dad always said that people in our communities turn up for lifeís big events. He would have been pleasantly surprised at how many ďturned upĒ for his final event on this earth, the celebration of his life and his entry into the next life.

People from out of town, from far away, that attended his funeral mimicked comments Iíve heard from others over the years who have attended funerals here. They commented about how people genuinely care about a grieving family. They commented on the funeral Mass, the American Legion honor guard, the great meal, and the number of friends who turn up at the wake service and funeral.

They are surprised at how much all of us in our little village rely on each other and how close we can become in a small town. It is difficult, if you havenít grown up in this warm atmosphere, to truly grasp the connection we all seem to feel for each other.

I think it is a great credit and asset to our communities that we are this way. We are often called homespun and simple, by people who donít understand a rural lifestyle. With the changing society, we might feel that we are somehow inferior or backward, because of the way we live and where we live, isolated from the cosmopolitan urban landscape.

But those of us who live here know better. What we have are relationships, friendships, families and neighbors. We have strong bonds that reach across fields and streets, beyond fences and gates, into each otherís hearts.

Difficult times, as Iíve written in this space many times, often bring out the best in small town and family farm life. We learn who our true friends are. We learn to depend on our faith even more than usual. We learn who we can turn to and who we can count on most. We learn how fortunate we really are to live where we do and to be a part of such a special and unique phenomenon that is rural life.

Talk with you next week.


  • Rural Compassion Feb '10
  • Winter Fun and Games Jan '10
  • Getting the Goods Dec '09
  • What Does the Future Hold? Nov '09
  • In the Hunt Oct '09
  • The Joys of Being a Farm Kid Sept '09
  • A Sense of Place Aug '09
  • If At First You Don't Succeed July '09
  • All the Dirt on Dirt June '09
  • Every Day is Earth Day May '09
  • Back to Basics Apr '09
  • Sowing the Seeds Mar '09
  • The Old Milk Cow Feb '09
  • The Blame Game Jan '09
  • When the Land is Your Life Dec '08
  • Post-Harvest Stress Nov '08
  • If a Farmer Were President Oct '08
  • Working Together Sept '08
  • Whatís Popping? Aug '08
  • When We Eat July '08
  • We All Scream for Ice Cream June '08
  • A Cowís Life May '08
  • Pursuit of Happiness Apr '08
  • Patience isÖTough! Mar '08
  • Rejected Olympic Events Feb '08
  • Random Acts Jan '08
  • Action Figures Dec '07
  • Peer Pressure Nov '07
  • Food Security is Farm Security Oct '07
  • For the Health of It Sept '07
  • Tread Lightly Aug '07
  • Patriotism & Your Dinner Table July '07
  • Do Farm Program Payments Help Rural Communities? June '07
  • Storms Bring Conservation Efforts to Light May '07
  • Getting the Word Out Apr '07
  • Problems of the Modern Man Mar '07
  • Gone to the Dogs Feb '07
  • Power of Positive Speaking Jan '07
  • Experience in Farm Policy Dec. '06
  • Life on the Trail Nov. '06
  • A Successful Farmer Oct. '06
  • Pulling Together Sept. '06
  • In the Still of the Night August '06
  • Angels in the Field July '06
  • Free Range Hogs June '06
  • Size Matters May '06
  • Food With Integrity Apr. '06
  • Is Cheap Food Good Policy? Mar. '06
  • This Old Barn Feb. '06
  • Little Miracles Jan. '06
  • Together for Dinner Dec. '05
  • Necessity is the Mother of Diversity Nov. '05
  • Life in the Fast Lane Oct. '05
  • A Way of Life Sept. '05
  • The Wave August '05
  • Food Less Traveled July '05
  • Staying Young June '05
  • Great Gardens May '05
  • Saying Grace Apr '05
  • Diversity is Good Mar '05
  • Local Food Trumps Border Opening Feb '05
  • A Farmer is a Farmer is a Farmer Jan '05
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