Prairie View

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Today's paper contained an article about Vice President Pence having given a speech in downtown Kansas City recently.  On the same trip, he promoted the re-election campaign of Kevin Yoder, who is a Republican U. S. Representative from that area.

As I have it figured out, Kevin Yoder and I had the same Yutzy Great Great Grandfather.  I know that his grandfather, Ora Yoder, and mine, Levi D. Miller, were first cousins.  I also know that Levi's mother's maiden name was Yutzy.  Kevin's father was Wayne, who was "Orrie's" son, I believe.  Our son Grant used to help his employer, Jared Oatney, work Wayne's fields in the Yoder area, which Jared was farming.

I have only one distinct personal memory of contact with Kevin's family.  Kevin's grandmother, "Orrie Edna," spent her final years at Mennonite Friendship Communities (MFC).  As I recall, she lived to be more than 100 years old.  One day when Andrew was the principal at Pilgrim, during the school day we all spent time doing activities with the residents at MFC.  Edna wanted to play Scrabble, and I was delighted to find someone interested in this favorite game of mine.  Hers was the first Deluxe Scrabble board I had ever seen, a gift from her family.  Edna had a sharp mind well into old age.  Maybe playing Scrabble regularly helped keep it that way.

Orrie was known to have great sense of humor.  I can't recall a single example of that right now, but I know I heard my father, uncles, and grandfather quote him, laughing as they did so.  I'm sure that I saw him and knew who he was as a child, but he lived in the Yoder area and our paths didn't cross often.  Edna outlived him by many years.

While I was watering plants and cooking this morning, I thought of several tidbits that I heard my father say about Kevin and my Yutzy ancestors--or relatives of our ancestors at least.  One of them, Reuben Yutzy, was a skilled gunsmith in Holmes County, OH.  Our local Raymond Yutzy (now deceased), paid lots of money to purchase and bring to Kansas a Reuben Yutzy gun when he found it in the possession of someone from Holmes County.  My dad also said that alcohol addiction was a problem in the Yutzy family.  I'm thinking that enthusiasm for guns and alcohol probably wasn't a combination worth bragging about.

I feel the same way about Kevin Yoder's record:  enthusiasm for guns and alcohol is a combination not worth bragging about.  Alcohol was apparently involved in the incident in 2011 when Kevin Yoder made national news for having skinny-dipped in the Sea of Galilee, in the presence of a crowd.  Granted, it was dark, and he apologized afterward, but it was a regrettable 15 minutes of fame nonetheless.

A previous alcohol-related incident occurred in 2009 when  " . . .  Yoder was pulled over for speeding on the K-10 expressway. After passing a field sobriety test, Yoder declined the officer's request to take a roadside Breathalyzer test. The officer cited Yoder for speeding and for refusing to take the breathalyzer test, and then let Yoder drive himself home. In a plea agreement, the speeding charge was dropped. Yoder pleaded guilty to refusing law enforcement's request for a breath test and paid a $165 fine." (Wikipedia)   Obviously,  the gaps in this story are  more problematic than the story itself.

In 2010 the National Rifle Association--Political Victory Fund (NRA--PVF) endorsed Kevin Yoder "because he is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in Kansas and across America.”
"During his time as a state representative, Yoder supported many pro-gun measures, including voting to prohibit gun confiscation during states of emergency; voting six times for comprehensive Right-to-Carry reform to remove burdensome hurdles, restrictions and excessive fees; voting to prohibit local governments from enacting gun control; and voting for the proposed amendment to the state Constitution making the right to keep and bear arms a fundamental, individual right."  "Yoder’s proven pro-gun record in the Kansas House of Representatives has earned him an “A” rating and endorsement from the NRA-PVF." Link
Depending on how his priorities were ordered, this "proven pro-gun record" might have made the Amish Reuben Yutzy proud.  His Mennonite Grandma Edna?  Probably not so much.  I know it would have  been acutely embarrassing to my Amish grandfather who would have considered it unthinkably unseemly to claim to be nonresistant (think pacifist) and to advocate meanwhile for gun rights.  Truthfully, he would not have campaigned for restrictions either.  He would simply not have made gun matters his business, as long as he could keep a gun for use on butchering day and for dealing with varmints.

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Saddling Kevin Yoder with all the "sins" of our common Yutzy ancestors is no more fair than it would be for me to feel obligated to take them on myself.  Neither would it be fair for either of us to lay claim to any of their fame.  On the matter of guns and alcohol, however, I think Kevin Yoder would be well-served to adopt his Kansas grandparents' sensibilities, just as I feel well-served by adopting mine.

Sins, skills, or sensibilities--each of us makes choices that create a record over time.  All who reflect on the record have the right to look for patterns that might be instructive.  When we're able to observe choices and consequences over multiple generations, the potential for identifying patterns expands.  Our determination to avoid pitfalls ought to grow with our understanding of these patterns.




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