A Different State Of Mind

Throughout much of the 1930’s the people living along the border of Oregon and California found themselves mired in a fairly frustrating existence.

The borderland wasn’t just timber country, it was still quite literally a frontier.

The loggers, miners and farmers who worked the land did so with very basic services and government infrastructure.

If the Great Depression ensured that America’s cities foundered in their desire for growth, it guaranteed that the Northwest had a better chance of snaring bigfoot than getting the traction needed for forward progress.

Consistent electrical service was rare and, aside from the major interstate highways, most roads were merely packed gravel and oil pathways which quickly turned to mud during the abundant seasonal rainstorms.

By the late 1930’s the region’s wood, mineral, and agricultural industries began to recover from the effects of the depression.

The state taxes that flowed into the coffers of Salem and Sacramento began to improve conditions just about everywhere in the state….

…except in the borderlands.

By early 1941 the people of these counties felt that they’d had enough of producing for their states while enduring minimal representation in their respective legislatures.

They weren’t going to sit back and do nothing.

Gilbert Gable, The Mayor of Port Orford, Oregon proposed that the border counties secede from their states.

Within the year 8 counties had voted to leave Oregon and California.

On November 27th, 1941, just outside of Yreka, a group of men stopped traffic on Route 99 and distributed copies of a “Proclamation of Independence” declaring that the “State of Jefferson was in patriotic rebellion against the states of Oregon and California”.

The act received the attention of the National media.

County leaders created a flag:
With X’s to mark the double-crossing of Oregon and California.

They designated a State Capital:
The “Golden City” of Yreka.

They elected a Governor:
The Honorable John C. Childs.

And declared themselves “The State of Jefferson”, ready to submit their proposal to Washington.

That’s when the wheels came off of the movement for the State of Jefferson.

On December 2nd, Gable -The Mayor of Port Orford, and leader of the movement, died of a heart attack.

Five days later the wheels came off for the entire nation as the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

The United States was plunged into World War Two, and patriots from Oregon, California, and Jefferson put aside their political differences for the sake of National unity and security.

The war came home when “The State of Jefferson” become the only section of the U.S. mainland to be attacked. An airplane, launched from a Japanese submarine, bombed the coastal town of Brookings.

4 years of war turned out to be more difficult than bad politics and insufficient infrastructure.

As bad as the conditions of the Great Depression were for the hearty pioneers of the region, it couldn’t compare with the loss of sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers.

When the war ended, and the soldiers returned, the United States emerged not only as a victor, but as a national powerhouse of manufacturing and production.

New roads were built and Northwest industry was not just supported, but new jobs were created.

Without urgency or need, the State of Jefferson quickly faded into memory; forgotten by all but a few faithful barn painters.

As it turns out, the people of those 8 counties didn’t actually need a new state, just a new state of mind.

While the conditions of pre-war “Jefferson” weren’t fair, it was a safer and more prosperous place than many of the other wretched corners of our mid-century globe turned out to be.

Taking their eyes off of themselves for four years turned out to be all it took to end the statehood movement.

This is quite often true for us too isn’t it?

Many times we become so self-focused that we believe our problems to be of the worst sort imaginable. I know that I am often guilty of believing that I’ve got it worse than the other people I know.

The problem is that comparatively, I don’t know a lot of people and the people I do know- well I don’t fully comprehend their daily struggles and difficulties.

Compounding this is the knowledge that “taking my eyes off myself” to focus on the problems of others “who have it worse than me” doesn’t actually guarantee that I will ever address or overcome the difficulty of my own circumstances.

Which is why God offers us a different solution to our problems than self-focus or others-focus.

In Jesus, God offers us the ability to live with a Christ-centered focus.

You see, a life focused on the person of Jesus always offers us a new perspective to not just view ourselves from, but also the lives of others.

It’s true, no one else has it like you do,
there truly are others who are worse off than you.

But as Christians, our lives aren’t about either of those two perspectives:

“… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Who, for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

Our lives are about keeping “locked on” to Jesus Christ, the person who not only endured more than us, but who also gives us the strength and courage to overcome anything that we will ever encounter.

The brokenness of our world dictates that I will have it bad
-early and often.

It also means that you will probably have it worse.
-and I won’t notice.

But none of this is overcome by self-pity or advocacy.

It isn’t overcome by changing geography.

It is overcome by staring past the face of our challenges,and into the eyes of Our Savior, in whom we find:

a renewed life,
a new heart,
and a different state of mind.

6 Responses to “A Different State Of Mind”

  1. Charley Blom January 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    great work. it is fun to ‘live in the state of jefferson’ but i also work on living in the Kindgom of God.

  2. Jon January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    The Genessee Valley is my favorite place in all of Jefferson!

  3. MattB January 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Good word Jon. Where in the world did you find the story of Jefferson? Well said.

  4. John Wetzig January 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Jon, excellent article. The barn you posted belongs to one of the families in our church. I enjoyed reading the history of our great State of Jefferson. But even better your reminder that focusing on the issues of others, & on Christ, blunts the pain we so often focus on.

    • Jon January 28, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks John, congrats to you guys! Love the Barn!

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