Many of you know that I spent the better part of last week in Washington DC. The night before I left, my oldest daughter came into my bedroom and said, “Why are you going to Washington DC?” She is currently studying civics in social studies class so I asked her, “What does the term civic duty mean?” To this, she replied “Yeah, Yeah, it’s your responsibility as a citizen of our country to be an active participant. I know that, but I don’t understand why YOU ALWAYS have to go…Can’t someone else go instead this time?”
As difficult as it is for my girls to go a few days without me around, I think that it sends a very strong message of personal responsibility to them as they watch me take the time to contribute. There are certainly days when I worry about the future of our country, but I also feel a tremendous amount of American pride that results in a personal duty to share and to educate. I believe that every American has a gift to share, and the prosperity of our country is contingent on finding a way to blend together all of those gifts in a wonderful display of teamwork.
I am honored to play a pivotal role in feeding my fellow Americans. My life caring for cattle and raising beef has very tangible results (whether the beef that I grow is feeding my family or yours). At the end of the day, I feel as though I have contributed in a unique and necessary way. I feel as though I have shared a gift, a part of myself, which makes my community and my country a better place. I am also honored to share the life that I lead with others so that they can understand how I raise animals and grow beef as well as other products that are made from my cattle.
Perspective is a concept that I reevaluate daily as it helps me to both better understand my animals and also the people for whom I grow food. When I travel back to Washington DC each year, I get a chance to gain perspective and insight into how we, as Americans, can come together to reach a common ground which hopefully results in success.
If I do not leave my farm and travel to the gathering place of hundreds of lawmakers and millions of customers, then they may never realize the truth of how I grow their food. They may never get the experience of learning first hand where their beef comes from. Conversely, by interacting and reaching out to those fellow countrymen and women, I gain a better perspective of how we can come together to be successful as a team. As I take a turn “walking in their shoes for a few days”, I gain new perspective and understanding.
The bottom line is that both I and my daughters learn an important lesson in civics when I make my yearly pilgrimage to our capitol city. We are all reminded that the privilege of being an American comes with the responsibility to actively and respectfully engage…