What happened to our gumption?

Farm Forum

Have you looked at your toenails lately? I’m serious. Take off your shoes and socks right this very minute and closely examine your toenails. Do they appear to be rather elongated with an almost claw like appearance? Or are your toenails neatly trimmed and looking good enough to sport a pair of flip flops? Before you answer that question— read on for the rest of the story.

Claw like or flip-flop ready

Right now you are probably wondering what my toenails look like. Well, let me assure you they are looking rather claw like. One might even go so far as to describe them as being a yellowish tough-looking talon. And why are they in this shape? Because my toenails have been clutching to this so-called fiscal cliff for so long-that they have become permanently impaired! And heaven forbid, it’s going to require a huge toenail clipper to get them back into any kind of shape.

Like everyone else in America, I feel as though I’ve been clinging to this precipitous fiscal cliff for so long that my toenails have become permanently disfigured. Ye gads and little fishes-can’t the powers that be make up their minds and get things back in order so the rest of us can function?

Quit your clowning around

Yes, I’m being facetious with the toenail scenario, but I felt we needed a little humor in the face of all this anxious adversity in our world. We have heard nothing but fear of falling off the fiscal cliff for so long that it has made me think of a person digging in their toenails to prevent such a disaster. And maybe this isn’t such a far-fetched image.

America has been waiting forever for answers and even as I write this article, the answers are still not completely formulated. My editor has even asked me about what has happened to my article for this week.

What a conundrum! How

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can I finish this article when I don’t know what is going to happen in our Congress. Picture this: there I am-on a high cliff clutching my unfinished article, fanning my fanny in the breeze, digging in my toenails, waiting for the word. Everything around me has ground to a complete halt. Oh, my! What drama!

But enough with the clowning around-fiscal cliff or not-life goes on and I have some thoughts for the New Year.

Sisu and Gumption definitions

Thought number one comes from my Finnish friends who have the most wonderful word in their language – Sisu. One day, during the course of a conversation, a Finlander friend said that I had a lot of sisu in me and further said that this meant I had a lot of gumption. I thanked him and kind of forgot about the connection between sisu and gumption.

And then this past week I was fretting about the fiscal cliff dilemma and what Congress should be doing-and the words sisu and gumption came to mind. It just seemed that there wasn’t a great deal of sisu or gumption taking place in America. My mind got to wondering about the meaning of those two words and with a little research provided me with some interesting details.

Sisu loosely translated means strength of will, determination, perseverance and acting rationally in the face of adversity, exhibiting common sense, having guts, daring, fortitude, a stubborn nature, and having gumption.

Gumption according to several dictionaries means having initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness; courage; spunk; guts; common sense; and shrewdness. One source traced its origins to the Scots.

Where did our gumption come from?

Now, aren’t those words just what we need to get off the fiscal cliff? It takes guts and determination and some just plain good old fashioned common sense-in other words-gumption to alleviate our troubles. And where does one get this good old-fashioned gumption idea? From none other than our own ancestors whether they were Norwegian, Finnish, Scots, German, etc., who came to Dakota Territory and settled this tree less prairie land.

I can’t help but reflect about my Grandpa Tesch arriving at Bemis, South Dakota in 1891 with little money, knowing few English words, and yet acquiring some land of his own. It took a lot of gumption and guts to stay the course, raise a family of ten children, and preserve the land for the next generation.

New Year’s resolution

From toenails, to claws, to sisu, to gumption, this article has taken a rather circuitous route, but with a solid purpose in mind. I do believe that the “Washington powers that be” need to look to their ancestral roots and start practicing some good old-fashioned guts and gumption. They also need to quit sitting on their roosts and playing party politics because it accomplishes nothing.

Therefore, my New Year’s resolution includes keeping our South Dakota ideals of putting in a good day’s work, practicing common sense logic, having some guts, and working together for the common good—in other words, exercising united gumption for our country. And one more thing, may I stress that we cannot do this alone- we must work together.

Or as my father would have said: “All’ zusammen bein Herzig” -all together with heart.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: jgreen@itctel.com