Our local herd of deer neighbours have been quite busy going back and forth along the path on the edge of the property this past week. There are five of them, and it’s a few young bucks, the mama doe, and some younger females. They are gorgeous to behold, and Little Man just gets so excited when he sees them out the window, calling us all over to look out. As we sit at the kitchen table and watch them pass by, I find myself intrigued by the herd dynamic.

Mama crosses the street first, and as she passes the large grove of trees, she stops and looks around. She checks to the east, towards our neighbour and the road, then she turns and looks in our window. After watching for a minute or so, she will turn and look back towards the road, then slowly make her way up the hill. Next, we see one of the young bucks, followed immediately by the smaller of the does. They make their way up the hill behind Mama, sometimes jumping through the snow as they head to the trees. Mama, in the meantime, is standing up top, watching her babies. Several minutes later, as the first three stand up top, the second buck and doe cautiously make their way to join the others. These two are the most wary and skittish, but the buck is always watching out for the doe. If I were to slide a chair across the wood floor, they will stop and look in at me. They peacefully graze together at the top of the hill until either a car comes down the road a half mile away or Little Man cries out in joy at seeing them.

As I have watched this little vista play out day after day, I’ve begun to think of herds and herd mentality. This time every year, you hear a lot about “herd immunity” in regards to the flu shot and other vaccinations and diseases. This crossed my mind, what with the whole coronavirus deal going on, but what I really thought about this morning, was the herd mentality of our political parties. In my life, I cannot remember a time when it was so polar, and people were so firmly stuck in their camps. The anger and lack of empathy for anyone who has a differing viewpoint just astound me. Whatever happened to civil discourse? Having a conversation with someone who does not agree with you 100% has quickly become a thing of the past.

I blame this on the phrase “Do not discuss politics or religion.” How often I heard this phrase as we would go to a family get-together. I always wondered what the big deal was about it. My family is Catholic (and Irish, the guilt is real over here!), so there was never any issue with talking about it. My late uncle was a Carmelite priest, and he and I would have long talks about Catholicism and religion in general, as well as politics. In high school, I did not see eye-to-eye with him on politics, but he taught me how to have those difficult conversations with others, how to support my argument, and truly defend my position. As I aged, and once he passed away, I realized how lucky I was to have those front porch discussions with him. No matter how much he may have disagreed with me, he was respectful, and actually listened to me. Nowadays, if I were to mention that I believe taxation is theft, or that I believe in the right of US citizens to own firearms, or I don’t believe healthcare is a fundamental right, I get yelled at, threatened, ignored, it goes on.

“You’re a woman, you should be more progressive and supportive of all women.” I’m sorry, but I do not think it is progressive to advocate for the murder of unborn children, nor do I feel that it is “female empowerment” to tell women that they are equal to men (or that there is no such thing as gender) and they should be respected and paid equally, while pushing for gun control. I don’t believe that women should be out there dressed with barely anything covering their bodies, nor should we be encouraging our daughters to do so.

My thoughts are definitely not popular, and so I have kept silent. I did not have a herd to protect me and keep an eye out for me. Well, I’m starting my own herd. I’m not going to sit in the shadows, and if I have to go out on my own for a bit, so be it. 100% introvert here; I don’t need to be with a group all the time. I will find my new herd, and we will be there for each other. Some will be more outgoing, and lead, like my momma deer. Some will be skittish, and some will just amble along, comfortable in the knowledge that they are safe and watched over. Care to join me, or start your own herd?

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