|I thought it was a simple issue but by the time it was over, I felt a bit like I had been boiled and plucked. I was trying to repeal the rule in Okaloosa County that outlaws backyard chickens – even a single hen- in all residential districts, rural or not. In truth though, the issue isn’t really about chickens at all. It is about being true to core principals. That means ending government interference into our lives – and our backyards, unless our individual actions harm our neighbors. I assumed, wrongly, that with an all Republican “conservative” Commission the issue would be a homerun.I noted a government ad from 1918 – near the end of World War 1 – encouraging Americans to keep backyard chickens to boost the productivity and self-reliance of a nation at war. The ad featured two children building a backyard chicken coop. The children represented the same generation that would later become “The Greatest Generation.” Those children, raised in a time when self-reliance and duty to the greater good existed in harmony, would face down the greatest threat the world has ever known. And yet less then 100 years later, it is okay for government to outlaw a former virtue. One fellow Commissioner scoffed at me for connecting the right to keep a few laying hens in the backyard to the development of The Greatest Generation. But is it really so foolish to think that the values we teach our children impact the people they become and the society they form? I hope and pray we never need another Greatest Generation, but what if? My son is 2 years old. With a government that regulates more and more of our lives for our own safety and comfort will this generation be up to the task if called upon? There will always be determined individuals among us; there will always be warriors who rise to the challenge, however great. But when we begin to produce warriors in spite of our shared values and expectations and not because of them, how long can we endure as the leader of the free-world?
So really, it wasn’t about a few clucking chickens at all, it was about producing people with pluck – the engrained quality of courage and determination that defined The Greatest Generation. It was about limiting the regulation of our lives and fostering a sense of independence and responsibility while discouraging reliance on government to provide for us and regulate our neighborly relations. And yet, for today at least, we cling to the status quo. But don’t worry too much. The issue is not over and tomorrow is a new day. I’ll keep you updated on efforts to turn the tide.
A more complete update on Tuesday’s Commission meeting will follow later.