How Not Having an Opinion Can Create a More Positive Hunting Community.
Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, and philosopher, left a wealth of wisdom that resonates with people centuries later. In his writings, he often spoke about the importance of controlling one’s thoughts and emotions and choosing not to be affected by external circumstances. These teachings can be applied to many aspects of life, including hunting. For example, we can’t control things that happen to us, but we can control how we react. So when that neighbor tags that shooter buck you had on trail cam all season long, that’s out of your control. You can control your response. Unfortunately, we often hear negative responses like, that was my buck, or you should have passed rather than simply saying congrats on a great hunt!
In today’s world, social media has given everyone a platform to express their opinions and share their views. While this can be good, it can also create a toxic environment where negativity runs rampant. This is especially evident in deer hunting. Worse, as a hunter, you might expect to hear negative comments from an anti-hunter (not saying we don’t). However, most of these negative comments and criticism comes from other hunters! Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Especially considering we’d have our tails handed to us in the polls, hunting could be eradicated from our society in the blink of an eye. We need to fight a war, and it’s out there, not within our community. We ought not to need to be the neck biting the head off. We’re on the same team, and it’s time to start acting like it.
This is where Marcus Aurelius’ words can be constructive. When he says, “You don’t always have to have an opinion,” he is reminding us that it’s okay not to engage in every argument or discussion that comes our way. Hunters don’t have to defend their choice to tag a basket rack or defend themselves for using a crossbow or hunting private or public land. Instead, let’s focus on the overall experience and positive aspects of hunting.
“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”Aurelius
I’m particularly fond of Aurelius’s quote: “Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.” This means that we have the power to control our emotions and reactions to external events. We, as deer hunters, can choose not to be affected by negative comments or shaming. I’m steadfast with the mission of Okayest Hunter in terms of attempting to put an end to hunter-shaming. Unfortunately, we’ll never fully eradicate hunter-bashing and negative comments. This is why Marcus’ message is critical here. We need to have tough skin and also realize the opinions of others do not need to become a reality.
Suppose you’re scrolling social media and see something you’re not aligned with, but there’s nothing inherently wrong about another hunter’s grip and grin. In that case, you don’t have to have an opinion. Additionally, you can choose not to feel harmed; therefore, you haven’t. The old saying, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it make any noise? We can choose to focus on the joy and fulfillment that comes from the experience of hunting and the connections we make with the natural world. We only have so much energy on any given day. Rather than use that energy to fuel negativity and detract from our family, job, and everything else in our lives, try simply scrolling on and see how much happier you feel. You can comment on something with positivity or constructive feedback rather than detracting and stealing joy from another hunter.
By applying these teachings to the hunting community, we can create a more positive and supportive environment where hunters feel comfortable sharing their experiences and connecting with others who share their passion. This is critical as we attempt to recruit new hunters to the lifestyle. Without new hunters, we’ll continue to be rapidly outpaced by the population growth of non-hunters which does little to support our conservation efforts as hunters. This doesn’t mean we have to ignore or dismiss the opinions of other hunters. Instead, we can engage in respectful dialogue and educate others about why we hold certain beliefs while respecting their right to have a different view.
The wisdom of Marcus Aurelius can be a valuable tool for the hunting community in creating a more positive and supportive environment. By choosing not to engage in every argument or discussion and focusing on the positive aspects of hunting and its conservation benefits, hunters can help shift the conversation and create a more constructive dialogue. By choosing not to be harmed by negative comments and shaming, we can maintain our love and passion for the past time and connect with others who share our values.
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