My cowboy brought me a quote the other morning at the feedyard because it reminded him of one of my daughters. It is a quote by
Marcelene Cox and states, “Children in a family are like flowers in a bouquet: there’s always one determined to face in an opposite direction from the way the arranger desires.” I spent the weekend thinking about this quote and the fact that each individual thinks and views the world differently. I see it in my children, I see it in my community, and I see it when I travel outside of rural America. We not only think differently, but we also all have different gifts and talents. Separately we are like random pieces of cloth of many different colors, together we make a beautiful patchwork quilt like the one my daughter Ashley Grace describes in her poem. So, how do we make the pieces of fabric fit together into that quilt?
Empathy and Understanding…
Empathy provides the foundation of all relationships. It is the ability to “listen to understand” instead of “listening to respond”. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and truly understand their point of view. It is a tremendously important human skill and I use it in all of my relationships whether they are human to human or human to animal.
Less than 2% of the American population has any ties to agriculture or the growing of food. Therefore, more than 98% of the American population does not have any first-hand knowledge of how food is grown. This statistic clearly demonstrates the gap that exists between farmers (the people that make the food) and consumers (the people that eat the food). With lives so intrinsically different, how are we then going to come together in such a way to make that beautiful patchwork quilt that symbolizes unity and cooperation, and ensures the sustainability and prosperity of both our country and our chosen way of life?
I believe the key to this is to inspire empathy in every person. This allows us to begin to come together and understand each other’s needs and desires. It also encourages each of us to use our individual gifts to their fullest potential for the benefit of our neighbors (both near and far). Every person has a right to know and understand where their food comes from. Every person has a responsibility to “listen to understand” when that conversation occurs so that we can develop a relationship based on trust, empathy, and truth. In doing this, we will create that beautiful patchwork quilt of prosperity and understanding.