How do you introduce yourself when meeting someone for the first time? At the many farming related conferences and training sessions I have attended over the last two months, the introductions have typically been the same…name, where from, what do you grow. While that tells your new friend a little about you, they don’t really know who you are.
If I were to create a name tag with interests, personality, status, etc…it would be filled with words like this:
Labeling seems like such a neat, tidy way to keep track of people. I’m not sure that is really being fair, though. I am much more complex than a simple label would indicate. I almost feel like I am back in high school sometimes, which wasn’t a very fun time for me. I was the shy, socially awkward one with few friends, mostly because I didn’t fit into any neat little category. I had friends from many groups, and would move between them often. I am the same way today.
This analogy became very clear to me this past weekend. I was attending the MOSES Organic conference with Jonathan for a couple of days before heading to the AgChat Foundation’s first ever Regional Conference. The learning sessions at both events were awesome, but very different. The people at both events were awesome, but very different. The one thing that stood out to me the most, was how the research from both organic and conventional agriculture are complementary. The breakout sessions I attended at MOSES could have been for anyone who grows corn, soybeans, or wheat. The Social Media breakout sessions at the AgChat conference would be valuable for anyone interested in promoting agriculture. While our methods and markets are different, when it comes right down to it, we all want the same thing.
I have been challenging myself over the past year to try looking at the bigger picture. To refrain from passing judgement when I don’t know the whole story. To stop putting people into good/evil categories based on one little facet of their life. I struggle with this more than I would really like to admit. I feel it is a part of the growing process, and I hope that I am not the same person one year from now that I am today. I hope I am a better version of myself. One who is patient when listening to others, who finds the good in people, and who thinks first and reacts second.
I would challenge all of you to do the same thing. Take a step back…don’t be so quick to label people, or put them into a good/evil category. Look at the bigger picture. You may really like the view!