When I was little, like most of the people around us we made do and used a lot of imagination in devising games and ways to pass time.
Gary, my older brother, and I often were able to come up with activities to keep our young minds and bodies active. When cowboys and Indians had fought to a bitter standstill and there wasn't anybody else around to get together a game of Indian ball, we moved to other outside activities.
One summertime event was to knock down the wasp nests which gathered under the eaves on the north side of the house. Our home was built on a hill, and the north side was the downhill side; the eaves were probably 12 feet or so above the ground.
Now nobody in their right minds wants to attack (red) wasps on a rickety wooden stepladder, so we turned to other aids. We had a metal Hudson sprayer, one of those rigs in which you pump up pressure in the top to force the liquid out a hose. When the pressure gets low, you pump it back up, something like a hand pump.
If there's sediment in the tank, you can also pump grit into the nozzle, which pretty effectively cuts off the flow, meaning you stop spraying and take things apart, clean out the grit and put them back together again. It's pretty simple, but not something you want to do with red wasps on the attack.
When we ran out of bug spray – and we didn't always have bug spray to start with – we used just plain old water. It doesn't kill the wasps, but if you get their wings wet, they can't fly, and you can go stomp on them. Quickly, before their wings dry out and they again can seek out the cause of their distress When you've got all the wasps off the nest, you can get a stick and knock down the nest, then douse it with a little gasoline. Or stomp it.
There's not a lot of finesse in the game, but there are risks.
When you first hit that nest with water or bug spray, you're going to irritate some wasps. They don't take kindly to your sprinkling, and they come seeking the source of their discontent. All of them. If it's a big nest, we're talking dozens of them.
If you're on the spraying end, you must choose wasp attack partners carefully.
Don't even think of taking on the job with somebody who is going to run away whining and crying at a little old wasp sting. (It never dawned on us until decades later some people are deathly allergic to the sting of a wasp. Apparently we weren't.)
This wasp patrol partner must have the courage to stick in there with you, and he must be willing to help knock them off you even at peril to himself. You, too, must be willing to suffer a little in order the offer protection to your partner. You have to have one another's back.
Even as adults it's a concept which is important.
Firemen and other emergency and law enforcement personnel absolutely must have somebody there to cover their back, to help them fend off a flank or rear attack, somebody willing to stick there until the job is done.
Truly enough, we all need our backs guarded, for that's where visibility is worst. When we're unsuspecting, that's when the attack will be most effective.
While I won't recommend you send your kids out playing in the wasp fields, there are lessons which can be learned there, toughness which can be developed and trust which can be earned.
But in our lazy society, we seem to have turned to trusting in the government to watch our backs – as a source for food, income, even housing.
That ought to simply astound you.
The leaders of government – the politicians – have an approval rating of less than 20 percent. Only one if five of us believes Congress is doing a good job, yet we trust them with our well being.
Four out of five of us, on the other hand, think they are inefficient or ineffective, or worse, just plain crooks.
There is ample evidence to bolster that argument, yet we blissfully disregard the harm they do, the lies they tell and the personal enrichment they accomplish. We still trust them to have our backs.
If you've put your trust in the government to secure the blessings of liberty for us and those who follow, it's a foolhardy path you've chosen.
Our nation has sprung from an extremely self-reliant people. I suspect they'd be astonished, amazed and distraught at our choices for people to watch our backs.