- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2022

People don’t come up to Alaska looking for handouts.

America’s final frontier is not easy. It is not convenient. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the weak.

It is a land of nonnegotiable nature — ferociously hostile to those who fail to grasp the threats all around or who forget to plan ahead.

Sure, the big cities up here have built reliable bulwarks against nature. Hot water, streetlights, garbage pickup and indoor plumbing are as regular as in any city anywhere. Police generally respond to 911 calls.

But outside of places like Anchorage and Wasilla and Talkeetna, you are on your own.

You want electricity? Figure it out. You want water? You better know how to use a bucket and a hose. You want gasoline for your generator? You haul it in. 

Alaska is an opportunity — a vision seen only by those brave enough to pursue it. Alaska is a canvas as clean as the silent snowdrifts that mount under the sterling moonlight of endless winter nights.

Naturally, Alaska draws people in search of a blank canvas. They are creators. Restless misfits. Fearless visionaries. Relentless workers. And, of course, many come to Alaska looking for anything other than whatever or whoever they left behind.

It has been said of the dating situation in Alaska: The odds are good — but the goods are odd.

And this is very true, so long as what you mean by “odd” is that the folks up here come from all over the place, escaping every background you can imagine and dreaming the wildest dreams you never thought of. They are true individuals.

When most Americans gaze west, we see cowboys in Wyoming. When Alaskans gaze west, they see Siberia. And, beyond that: Asia. Incomprehensible, immeasurable, rising Asia.

Sure, that Asian orientation makes Alaskans a little more strange to most Americans. But it also makes them much wiser about the great wilderness that awaits America in our unavoidable future.

Too many in America today have been lulled into slavery by government welfare, fattened by indolence and decadence — drifting through their lives without guiding purpose or urgent duty. The video game/social media revolution has created a generation of Americans with strong thumbs and weak spines — toggling brainlessly between the virtual world and reality.

Neither strong thumbs nor weak spines do you any good here in the wilds of Alaska. A 1,200-pound bear is not confused about how many genders there are and really doesn’t care what you think your pronouns are. He is just hungry.

Frontier Alaskans are fiercely individualistic. Yet they are anything but selfish. These folks listen for gunshots from over on their neighbor’s land — and come running if the cadence of the gunshots suggests a neighbor might be in distress.

Yet they remain fiercely individualistic. Anyone who survives up here knows that if they do not do something, that task will not get done. 

He who does not work does not eat. And probably freezes to death — if he doesn’t get eaten first. Nobody here expects the government to solve any problems.

That streak of individualism is part of what Alexis De Tocqueville described as “self-interest rightly understood” — that magical ingredient without which there is no such thing as self-governance. 

Alaska is “self-interest rightly understood” preserved in its most perfect form. These modern frontiersmen come with an insatiable hunger for exploration — exploring not just the next ridge, but also the limits of their own strength and the boundaries of their own souls.

Through swarms of giant mosquitos, past ferocious beasts, across mountains of snow and defying the spring “break-up” of sliding ice floes, Alaskans march along a ridge rising to Denali — until her jagged mountain peaks come into sharp view above the clouds. And there they build a cabin by hand.

Here is still the Land of the Brave and Home of the Free.

• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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