With our national election less than a few weeks away, I do hope you cast an informed vote, no matter what your political persuasion. Will our votes help Congress learn how to work together? Who knows. But if we don't vote and we don't express our concerns that we want compromise, will the seemingly polarized two-party system continue its debilitating partisanship? Especially when 80% of the country disapproves of their actions.
And to that end, are we truly more polarized as a nation? Or is the 24/7 daily news cycle plus extreme bloggers and radio talk show hosts on both sides of the aisle simply telling us we are polarized, or are encouraging us to act that way? And are more people acting that way in electronic rants on social media and blogs—when in reality the vast majority of the populace probably wouldn't take that strong a stand when face-to-face, with real human contact? Have we lost our soul of compassion to truly hear people with different views, especially when we can virtually hide behind the screen of the computer?
Historically, we used to have good sensible moderate politicians in both parties who could defend their beliefs, yet work with each other to broker deals. We also had elected officials who voted according to the best interests of their constituents, not vote as a party in lock-step.
Polarized views also seem to permeate agriculture. Animal welfare, genetically modified crops, industrial agriculture, food safety, water quality, patented plants – all these issues raise the ire of farmers and the entire agricultural industry when attacked by consumer activist groups. The Internet has become a powerful driver of not only greater transparency, but also of misinformation and untruths.
In times of even heightened global turmoil, can we as a nation, and as an agricultural industry, find a higher ground of compassion, and put forth a stronger effort and ability to listen and actually hear other opinions in order to learn, understand and find compromise?
I think we can.
Because deep down, whether we like to admit it or not, we understand the need for compromise. And in the end, who really likes all the negativity and the vitriol – along with the stress, poor health, obesity, overindulgence and fighting that it can cause.
So let's bite our tongue, carefully choose our words and our battles, and admit that we're not 100% right. If we can think different, to give and take for the greater good, we can build a better agriculture and a better society that our founding fathers set in motion several centuries ago.
Despite a U.S. economy predicted to struggle for the next few years, I hope we can all work to find common ground.
I sincerely thank you for reading and for being willing to Think Different.