The Seen and The Unseen

It’s been a tragic week.

We learned that a friend of ours was killed in a car accident.  Andrew was 20 years old.

Andrew in 2008, helping out with The Fundrai$er.

Andrew in 2008, helping out with The Fundrai$er.

Andrew was a lovely young man who had worked at our feedlot in Australia.  He had also acted in and generally helped out with “The Fundrai$er,” a community play I was very involved with which was performed to four huge sold-out audiences in 2008.  Andrew was always a pleasure to work with and be around.

His parents and two younger siblings, and indeed, everyone in the community, are reeling.

Then we learned that Andrew had run into a farmer on a tractor.  When I heard that, I groaned inwardly.  “We’re sure to know whoever that was,” I thought.

Sure enough, we know the farmer well.  He had his 8-year-old daughter on the tractor with him.  Neither of them was hurt, but neither of them is doing well emotionally.

My heart is aching for everyone.  I’ve cried.  I’ve been sick to my stomach.

My immediate emotional response is, “This is too much tragedy!  How can we keep this from happening again?  How can we keep a good 20-year-old from being killed in a car wreck?  How can we protect an innocent 8-year-old from such horror?  How can we ensure that an honest farmer does not go through such guilt and grief?”

But then I recall the main theme in Frederic Bastiat’s cautionary screed: We must not only consider that which is seen, but also that which is not seen.

19th Century French Classical Liberal Theorist, Frederic Bastiat.

19th Century French Classical Liberal Theorist, Frederic Bastiat.

We’ve seen the tragedy.  We see the obvious horrendous results of this accident.

But if we implement policies at a top-down governmental level to attempt to effectively answer any of my emotive questions above, there will exist substantial unseen consequences.

How many 20 year olds drive down gravel roads every day without having an accident?  They learn multiple things from such driving.  They enjoy the change of scenery.  Perhaps they get to work or school faster.

How many young children learn independence and hard work and decision-making by helping their parents on farms or ranches or in businesses every day?

How many farmers take pride in teaching their children the tricks of the trade?  How often do they get real benefit from their child/ren helping with production?  How would we ever account for the mutual benefits that accrue?

Andrew was full of life!  He was a doer.  His life would have been less than satisfying if, at every turn, a nanny was present telling him that he should not do a backflip off the monkey bars, or that he should not work at a feedlot when he’s 16, or that he should not drive to town for play practice, or that he should not ever drive down a gravel road.

I’m certain he would rather have lived life to the fullest and taken the chance of dying young as to live a long life without any challenges, decision-making or risk-taking.

Only a person who risks is free.

RIP, Andrew.  You are now — and always have been — free.


I love ag.  I love freedom and the risk taking that goes with it.  I do not always love the consequences of freedom, but the consequences of impinging upon freedom, mostly unseen, are much more horrendous.

Finally, I love the fact that our lives were enriched by the presence of Andrew and his family.  We have been truly blessed.


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