"The only things in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos."   -Jim Hightower

   I've been reflecting on some events this year.  In this reflection, I considered exactly what it means to take a stand on something and publicly voice your position.  Ideally,  it should mean that you have a right to your opinion, the respect of others for honestly expressing it, whether they agree with your position or not, and the fortune to pursue your goals, without interference,  as long as they do not infringe on someone else's rights.   Hmm.  I've observed some really interesting reactions to this in the mule industry.  Just for fun, I'd like to introduce you to just some muleskinners I've met.
The Muler - This is the person who just loves mules and mule people.  They like the mules and everything that goes on around them. They have no desire to show or compete, but they love to trail ride and fellowship with other mule people.  They are generally, friendly, funny and down to earth.  They are well liked and fun to be with.
The Worker - This mule owner not only enjoys their mules, but volunteers time to work for associations and groups, gets involved in the organization of the mule industry and uses talents to promote the mule to the public.  They are generally busy, helpful and creative.  They receive acknowledgment, recognition and are well known.
The Competitor - This mule person likes to show, compete and win.  They train, prepare and are goal orientated when it comes to competition.  They're disappointed when they do not win and set about correcting mistakes so it doesn't happen again.  They are focused, competent and talented.  They receive public renown and acclaim.
The Exhibitor - This mule person likes to show, but competes with themselves.  They train, prepare to improve their performance and are most interested in achieving their own personal best.  They win often, are  tenacious and serious.  They receive great satisfaction from accomplishing a goal and are admired.
The Trail Rider - This person can't get enough scenery from the back of a mule.  They might get involved with endurance, competitive trail riding or packing.  They are exhilarate by riding and are devoted to it.  They are energetic, fit and on the move.
The Enthusiast - This mule person just believes in mules, mules, mules.  They enjoy and support any type of activity that allows mules to demonstrate their versatility.  They subscribe to all the magazines and devour all the information they can get about mules.  They are genuine, positive mule ambassadors.  They motivate others toward positive endeavors to promote mules.
The Whiner - This person is a Competitor with a personality disorder.  They've taken competition to its lowest level.  If they loose, it's always someone else's fault.  They feel the judge wasn't fair, the other exhibitors cheated, the classes were too hard, the rules too stiff.   Unlike the Competitor and Exhibitor, they would rather bellyache than work hard and improve their skills.  They are loud, quarrelsome and complaining and regarded as poor sports and malcontents
The Rumormonger - This person can't resist spreading  rumors about the others.  The Monger can't decide what he/she wants to be, is too lazy to apply themselves or is jealous of other's success,  so they spend their time trying to discredit the others.  Instead of working, competing, exhibiting, riding and being enthusiastic, this person undermines the fabric of an industry.  They are secretive, gossip and are mistrusted and excluded
Anonymous - This person engages in attacks and character assassinations on the others in the form of anonymous letters, subterfuge and sabotage.  Whatever their intent and motivation, their tactics are cowardly and lack credence refusing to provide for direct engagement with someone they attack.  They are controlling, vindictive and lack intelligence.  Their refusal to sign their name indicates their lack of skills to meet an issue head on.  They are dismissed as mentally deranged.

             I guess my point, and, I do have one, is that we all have a choice in what capacity we fit into the mule industry.  Some are positive roles that will help the industry grow and be good examples to the youth.  Some are destructive.  Our behavior reflects our choices.  As the sayings go, "You're either part of the problem or part of the solution." and "Your either make dust or eat dust."  In addition, deciding not take a position, is taking one.  And, I guess I agree with Mr. Hightower, if you want to stay in the middle of the road you'll be either recognized as yellow or dead!  I'd like to challenge all of us to take a positive role in the growing mule industry and respect each other's right to participate as we see fit.