In my Agriculture Communications class at the University of Illinois, we work to help others see things from our perspective. The goal for advocating for agriculture, or “Ag-vocating” is to tell our story in agriculture to the consumer. Agvocating hopes to create a better understanding of practices and methods used to produce foods, fuels, and fibers.
Before I left home for school this fall, I stopped and talked to a former teacher of mine. Mr. Adams is a teacher at Seneca High School in the Social Studies department and was, hands down, my absolute favorite teacher in high school—besides my Ag teachers, of course.
In addition to teaching us the basics of how our government is set up to work, Mr. Adams pushed us to look outside of our perspective and encouraged deeper thinking.
During our chat before I left for school, we talked about perspective. “People always say, ‘if only they could see things my way,’,” he said. “’Then things would be different; they’d be better.’”
So often, we think our way is the best way—nay, the only way to do something. It’s our way or the highway.
What’s worse is that we view others who don’t see our perspective as ignorant, even if we’ve never taken the chance to look from their point of view.
Take, for instance, this meme.
I recently had several friends on Facebook who shared this meme. These friends are involved in agriculture in some way; most of them farm or have livestock of their own.
Because of this hands-on experience, they can see the job of feeding and taking care of 80,000 cattle at once from a different perspective. This perspective differs from that of, say, someone from a suburb that has little to no interaction with production agriculture.
However, these friends in agriculture have little to no interaction with life in the suburbs. Therefore, they don’t understand why anyone would want to live in proximity to masses of people.
Now, my question for you is how could a consumer from the suburbs and a farmer from the country have anything in common?
Both have a mutual misunderstanding of how the other side lives. This misunderstanding creates a void between the two in which ignorance can blossom. This vicious cycle continues with no true hope of stopping.
Now, why can’t we all just get along?
Because doing so would mean looking outside our perspective.
Looking outside our perspective is hard.
It means becoming comfortable with things that make us uncomfortable.
It’s sticky and awkward; generally, people try to stay away from doing so.
But when people do venture outside their frame of reference, you start appreciating people’s differences instead fearing them, and life truly begins to be beautiful.
This week, I encourage you to take the time this week to look at a situation from a perspective other than your own. You don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but at the very least, appreciate what makes their perspective unique.
You might be surprised.