Oregon Impressions : My Trip to central Oregon

Oregon Santiam Pass, watercolor sketch

Santam Pass, Oregon - from the paintings of Oregon series

Santiam Pass, Oregon

My trip through central Oregon was productive if brief. Few of my paintings will make it to the web in all probability but keep looking.

The people I met when I was in Burns were wonderful and I was extremely comfortable with them. I have also seen the antisocial, anti government trend in this area too, however, a product – I suspect – of isolation. This was not true of my contacts in Burns, but I saw it in some others in Bend. People need to get a grip and stop thinking only of themselves. Then again, I spoke with fewer than 50 people during this trip so I don’t want to categorize an area with any finality. The countryside was beautiful and so were many of the people.

We have made much of the American spirit if independence. You’ve heard all that stuff about how you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and how the government shouldn’t help people because that’s not the American way … people need to do things for themselves, etcetera. This is the defining characteristic of central Oregon. Alas, it is all built on a lie.

We all drive on highways payed for by others and built by people we never knew. We read posts like this on computers assembled from parts made in many places with technology developed by diverse individuals. We spend money earned a hundred times over by someone else and the dollar that passes through our hands, someone else will call ‘mine’ very soon.

You didn’t build your house or apartment, nor did you cut the lumber for it. Your income depends on many others – your boss, your customers, the goodwill of the general public, even if you are self-employed. No, none of us is truly independent of the society that we live in. That idea of ‘fierce independence’ is a big fat myth, and sometimes it is a destructive one.

In my experience most people who cling to this philosophy with pride see it as the strength of America, not realizing that nothing in their own lives comes solely from themselves. And in truth, what they really mean – often – is “I’ve got MINE, so fuck everybody else!” Some of the towns I visited seemed to ooze this sentiment. Not all, however.

Everyone will learn how society works, but some need to learn such lessons the hard way.

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