A Special Bottle In The Ocean

On July 1, a lot of new legislation that was passed during the last session of the Tennessee Legislature became law. I don’t know if you have noticed a lot of things being done differently since that date, but several laws were placed on the books and most of us didn’t even pay a bit of attention. We spent more time on that date worrying about if there were going to be fireworks for the Fourth of July, rather than what the reduction in the food tax would mean for us. There was also a new law that required Junior to not wear saggy pants to school placed into law on that day, but the majority of Tennesseans were too busy trying to stay cool than to worry about getting in trouble for attempting to look cool.

Just like the last election, there were several changes made in who was elected that will affect legislative committees next year and member party makeup, but by the real number of how many came out to vote, it makes you wonder if we really still care. Sometimes I wonder if people are waiting for that special time when the stars all fall into place and they will cast their votes looking for results of nothing but harmony and peace in the political world. If you believe that is going to happen, then let me talk to you about a nice building lot in the Everglades.

I still have confidence in our legislative system, but it can only work if we do our homework. Study the issues, work for candidates of our choice, go to the polls and cast our votes. Most of us have had a lot of money spent on our educations to not allow the media to use their opinions and polls to make up our minds for us. Just give me the facts and leave the opinion making to me.

A few days ago would have been my wife’s birthday; she passed away three years ago with cancer. On that day, my little granddaughters, who were vacationing near the ocean, made her a special birthday card, with help from their mother, telling her how much they missed and loved her. They put the card in a bottle, and with the help of their father, went down to the beach and cast the bottle containing the message into the sea. As they watched it bob up and down in the current, they noticed that it was heading back to the beach instead of going out to sea. They followed its path on down the beach until it arrived in the hands of another person at the ocean’s edge. The man picked up the bottle and read the card on the inside through the glass. Being touched by the little girls’ message to their departed grandmother, he then walked into the water and gave the bottle another fling into sea, to send it on its way.

The bottle once again moved with the current and my children followed it on down the beach. A few more times it washed back to the ocean’s edge, but each time someone threw the bottle into the ocean a little further after reading the message.

After several “troubled” journeys in the water, repeatedly arriving back at the ocean’s edge, the bottle finally was thrown far enough by a sympathetic launcher to catch the current that carried it out to sea and on to its unknown destination.

Are we all not somewhat like that bottle? We all travel a course that many times we have been thrown into at no fault of our own. We bob up and down, as well as splash, but often wash back up on shore just hoping someone listens to our story and flings us back into the tide of life to try again. I know I have gotten to where I am by a whole lot of flings in my life.

Right now, our government seems to be bobbing up and down, but many people are not reading the note inside or they really just don’t care to give it a fling. It is up to us, as citizens of the greatest country in the world, to fling our electoral system back into the current. It is time to get involved, to vote and to set things back on course.

Take a lesson from two little girls who never met their grandmother, but loved her enough to want to do something special for her. We have been fortunate enough to be born here, and it is time to show our love for this country and state and do something special by caring with involvement and votes.


 – Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com