Germany’s Bavarian Forest National Park and the Czech Republic’s Sumava National Park lie on either side of the border between those two countries. The German park is in what was once called West Germany, and the Czech park, of course, was once in Czechoslovakia. Since the Iron Curtain figuratively came down, so too — literally — have the barbed wire and electric fences that separated communism from capitalism in that region.

Germany and the Czech Republic have gone so far, in fact, as to create a wilderness area along that once-heavily armed border, a place where red deer and other animals of the mountains could be themselves.

Problem is, the deer won’t cross the border, even though there’s nothing stopping them.

Czech zoologists found this out by tracking 1,800 of the big beasts with GPS collars between 2005 and 2011.

These red deer are in Scotland, not Germany or the Czech Republic, but they are red deer.
These red deer are in Scotland, not Germany or the Czech Republic, but they are red deer.

“More animals in the last year are crossing [the border], but the trend, or the change, is quite slow because of the traditional behavior of the deer,” said Pavel Sustr, the head of the team. “The young deer [during its] first year follows its mother [and] the mother is teaching [it] the area. So, more or less, the behavior of the mother [determines] the area which is used by the deer in later years.”

So this is slowly changing, mainly because there’s always a few rebels in every crowd who don’t accept that something must be so just because it always was — because, y’know, it wasn’t always. There was a time when there was no Iron Curtain, figuratively or otherwise, and the deer knew nothing of borders and watchtowers.

Similarly, a lot of people still put two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. You may be among them, even though all style guides out there say that one space is proper. If you do use two spaces, it’s because you were taught to do that. I was. The reason we were taught that is that type, particularly on typewriters, was once monospaced — every letter took up the same amount of space, unlike what you’re reading now (unless for some unfathomable reason you’ve converted this to American Typewriter or Courier). It was pretty hard to see just exactly where a sentence ended when even the periods took up the same amount of space as the letter em. So, the two-space rule.

That’s just not necessary anymore, but teachers still teach it that way — because they were taught that way. I won’t go into why it’s better to use just one space here — there was a discussion about that on a friend’s Facebook page this morning that became quite lively. Let’s just say I’m a rebel red deer. I stopped doing the two spaces thing long ago.

Tonight (it’s Tuesday, February 4, as I’m writing this) science geek and atheist Bill Nye is going to debate Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum, about … how the world came into being. This promises to be fairly boring, if you ask me. I can tell you right off the bat what it’s gonna be like. Bill Nye is gonna say, Science, and Ken Ham is gonna say, No, because The Bible. Then Ken Ham will say, The Bible, and Bill Nye will say, No, because Science. The end.

I’m gonna come right out and say it. Ken Ham is wrong on this one. The earth wasn’t formed just a few thousand years ago, and homo sapiens did not walk the earth with the dinosaurs (nor did Adam and Eve ride dinosaurs to church on Sunday, as the joke goes), unless you’re counting alligators and crocodiles. Ham believes it, though, because that’s what he was taught. Some of you may have been taught that as well, although likely not all that many, because it’s a pretty new and radical way of looking at the world. It stems from the anti-Darwin crowd of the 19th Century, which started because the Industrial Revolution (and the idea of evolution) scared the bejesus out of simple American Protestants who just wanted things to be the way they’ve always been. But the truth is that religion and science have not always been at odds (that Galileo thing notwithstanding).

In fact religion didn’t even have much of a problem with the idea of the earth’s age once science started showing showing the true age, until the start of the 20th Century. By then, science was everywhere. There were cars and airplanes and radio and all manner of really scary things, with more on the horizon, so certain groups started looking to the bible for ways to stop what scared them. They decided, contrary to centuries of teaching, that god literally created the earth in six literal 24-hour days, and then started piling on.

This is, of course, a very simplistic way of looking at some very complex psychological, social and cultural changes — changes that started coming on really fast in the 19th Century and have not slowed. If anything, they may be getting faster, and certainly no less frightening.

And that brings me to another Facebook conversation, this one from yesterday, the day after that big football game when Coca-Cola ran an ad that featured American children singing “America the Beautiful” in several languages. This (along with the gay couple and their child) apparently made some conservatives’ heads explode, and they began a Twitter thing called #SpeakAmerican, which is pretty damn crazy all by itself. The conversation began when one of my friends posted that the folks complaining about the ad should really ask why the song wasn’t sung in some native American language, not realizing that it actually was sung in Keres, which is a Pueblo dialect. That’s not at issue. Here’s one of the first responses to my friend’s comment:

I guess the difference is that we took the country from the native Americans and we are surrendering the country to the illegals and foreigners. Today it better to be politically correct than to risk being called racist.

Eh? When my friend asked if this responder thought it was OK for “us” to have taken the country from the natives, he answered:

Taking the country away from the Indians wasn’t right but giving it up after all of the blood and sacrifice that has been made to keep it isn’t right either. If we can have diversity without losing our country, that would be great. But having people come to our country and demand that we change who we are isn’t acceptable. How would any other country handle an invasion of millions of foreigner telling them to change their culture ? Their answer would be that you chose to come here. You are supposed to assimilate into our culture. Washington is more worried about doing what is politically correct than working to protect our freedoms.

Eh? Then my friend (and some others) asked if anyone was asking this responder to change.

The federal government is trying to make ALL of us change. From trying to take away our second amendment rights, to Obamacare, to giving away Social Security benefits to people that haven’t contributed a dime, I’m being forced to change how I plan for the future. As long as liberals want us to sit around the camp fire and sing KumBaYa, our freedoms will be at risk. As long as our borders are not secure, our freedoms will be at risk. As long as terrorists can walk across our borders, our freedoms will be at risk. I don’t need to see a mushroom cloud over an American city to know our freedoms are at risk.

Eh? My friend noted that he was “still trying to figure out how a multilingual ‘America the Beautiful’ was related to all those fears and concerns.”

I guess my opinion is that it’s fast becoming “America the Not So Beautiful”. Being multilingual is great but ENGLISH is our primary language. Try walking into Mexico and telling them that they have to start speaking English. They have to start teaching in English. They have to pay for my medical, educational, housing and food. They have to give me money I didn’t earn. Now multiply that by +\- 20 million. I bet it wouldn’t take long for them to call out the military and have buses lined up as far as you can see to ship us back to “America the Beautiful”. Coming to America is like winning the lottery. The only thing is that ALL the taxpayers are giving out the prizes.

And he finished up (so far) with

The only thing I’m against is people not working for their keep. If you work, you contribute. If you don’t work, you are a burden for the rest of us. I contributed to my Social Security. I contributed to my 401k. I earned the right to benefit from them both. For me, they are not entitlements. My money is being stolen by those that did not pay into the system. It’s simple math. If more people take money out of something than are putting in, then the system will fail for everyone. I believe in change, but come on. Common sense has to prevail at some point.

We don’t learn just from teachers and parents. We also learn from friends, other family members, what we read, what we watch, what we listen to. That Facebook responder didn’t go from freakout over a multilingual version of a song written by a well-known lesbian and socialist to “you deadbeats are taking my money” in a vacuum. He went there because he’s scared, not totally sure what he’s scared of, and willing to listen to any explanation he can find, particular if it’s really simple, plays into things he was taught by parents, teachers and the like, and gives him an easy target for his fear.

I know, I know. I don’t know this guy, and really, I’m not judging here. I’m not angry either. It’s just that it’s pretty classic “backed into a corner” behavior, and it just makes me sad.

Let me throw Victoria Jackson in here. She used to be on Saturday Night Live, and later became an extremist (some might say crazy) right wing darling. She moved to a little town in Tennessee, where she’s running for county commission. She explains how she is opposed to Agenda 21, which is a non-binding UN plan for sustainable development.

I’m against Agenda 21, which is being implemented already at the local level, in offices like Main St. Franklin where “Franklin Tomorrow” pushes “innocent” policies like bike paths and walking trails, perhaps unaware of the United Nations plot to separate American citizens from their private property, eliminate suburbs, and concentrate people groups into cities, forcing mass transit, eliminating cars under the false-science guise of “human caused” global warming/climate change.

The horror. The completely made-up insanity, and the very fearful, paranoid place it comes from.

None of us really like change and the chaos that inevitably brings. It’s scary, frightening, and very, very difficult to step beyond the bounds of what we’ve been taught, to see, or try, something new. But change is a good thing. Without it, we stagnate. Our worlds become smaller. We become more fearful. We see change as a threat. We stop living.

This is not how it’s always been, and it won’t be this way in the future. Be a rebel red deer. Jump that non-existent border into a new land.

Photo by Mehmet Karatay, licensed by Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
KC Wildmoon

KC Wildmoon

KC Wildmoon is an accidental journalist who never even bothered to finish school since her accounting major was incredibly boring. Instead, she opted for being a minor rock star and annoying as many government officials as possible on a regular basis. After 16 years at CNN, she's now doing forensic journalism for Ireland-based Storyful.