An Alaskan’s glimpse of Iowa shows the value of culture

By Barnabas Firth

A couple years ago, a dear friend of my family purchased for us a gift subscription to the bimonthly magazine, “Our Iowa.” I thought this to be somewhat strange, as we have no family connections to Iowa. But the gift was for the merit of the magazine alone.
After the first few issues of this magazine about a small part of the U.S. heartland, I was hooked. Good photography shows a stunning beauty that outsiders might never dream existed in a flyover state. (Of course, it is impossible to match the beauty of our state, but that’s beside the point).
More than that, it captures the culture of that state. With frank articles on the toil, recreation and faith of ordinary Iowans, it captures the true culture of Iowa in a way one seldom sees in magazines. The success of this Iowa magazine rides on the understanding and love the authors have for their culture, their ability to convey it and the fact that they don’t care what others may think. It’s their way of life and they love it.
There is a point in this that must be understood when we hear talking heads and editorials lauding multi-culturalism and diversity as desirable traits for a society. Americans largely accepted the diversity argument because of their own unique culture. We desire — above all — to live in freedom. Therefore, we desire that others be able to share in the blessings of liberty in the way they choose. As long as they do not violate the rights or safety of the rest of us, they should be free to live as they wish.
But it is time for us to admit that we have allowed diversity to be used as an argument to turn our ideals on their heads and push us in a direction opposing the very premise of freedom upon which we accepted the idea in the first place. No matter what the beliefs of those reading this, we all must admit that it is getting more difficult to identify a unique culture that binds us all together; a set of definable principles, ideals and traits we hold in common. This brings me, finally, to the point that must be gleaned: when there is no definable culture left, there is no unity. When Iowans are no longer united by a common set of principles and traits, it leaves their magazine no more than a collection of pretty photos.
Today, examples of the attack on our culture are plentiful. The Ten Commandments — the very founding tradition of Western law — are no longer allowed to be displayed in public buildings. Chaplains are being kicked out of the public sphere as faith is purged. Those who oppose the redefining of marriage as something other than what our culture has long been built on are called bigots and worse; even when they fully support the freedom of every person to live as they choose.
With endless piles of regulations and permits required from several different agencies to do anything constructive, it almost looks like freedom is no more alive here than anywhere else.
Many Americans complain they no longer recognize the country they once loved. But we need to look forward and realize that we can indeed leave something worthwhile to the next generation. We just need to remember what it was that made our culture strong and good. We hold a legacy of freedom and prosperity that Western and American culture has established, and it is worth upholding. In giving in to political correctness and diversity, we have allowed our culture to be stolen from us. We are on the verge of having nothing left.
It is not a horrible thing to have a culture that openly stands for beliefs and principles; it is the only way to have a strong culture.
I was recently reading an article on the settling of Anchor Point in Last Frontier Magazine (perhaps the best magazine portrayal of our own beloved homeland), written by Anchor Point’s own Dana Jaworski. From floating fish eggs down the Anchor River in anticipation of a salmon strike, to the challenges of crossing the river in the early days, she captures a glimpse of the rugged Alaska spirit by which we all desire to be defined. In so doing, she holds up the culture that unites us.
As Alaskans, let’s hold onto our guns, our fishing poles, our adventurous spirit and our right to live the way we choose. As Americans, let us not be shamed by the controlling forces of political correctness into giving up the legacy of faith, family and freedom that defined an American culture that Americans used to be proud to hand down.
And finally, Iowa is a place you really should visit. How do I know? I’ve never spent time there, but I feel as though I have. I read the stories of people who truly love and are proud of their culture. It’s something worth having.

Barnabas Firth has lived in Alaska for most of his life, both in the interior and on the coast. His paid occupation is in maintenance, but he occasionally leaves the world of maintaining to convey his thoughts in writing. He welcomes any comments at

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Posted by on Jun 10th, 2014 and filed under Point of View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “An Alaskan’s glimpse of Iowa shows the value of culture”

  1. Tami Reiser says:

    Excellent point of view, and very well written. If you decide to run for office you will have my vote!

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