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Enough is Enough

Do you ever feel like someone has drawn one giant line in the sand and people have jumped on either side of it and are screaming at the top of their lungs?  Pick your topic – politics, parenting, food choices, agriculture…you name it and I can guarantee you don’t have to look very far to find people who are screaming so loud about their point of view that they can’t even hear themselves think, let alone take a breath long enough to hear the other side.

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If you are on Facebook much at all, there is a good chance that you have seen Mark Zuckerberg’s post about visiting a South Dakota farm last week.  It struck me as a well written post highlighting some of the challenges facing these cattlemen, and giving credit to all of the farm families that help provide many different products for people.  And then I read some of the comments.  Talk about that line in the sand and screaming so loud you can’t hear yourself think.  There were people thanking him for taking the time to visit and share, and then there were people attacking him for supporting the inhumane treatment and killing of animals.
 
Along those same lines was a story about a mom who was doing her best to take care of her children, and was being constantly made to feel guilty about the choice that she was making – anything from her choice of diapers, to using (or not using) essential oils instead of medicine, to what type of food she choose to, or could afford to, feed her kids.
 
So enough is enough.  It’s time to just take a breath, and realize life isn’t black or white.  It’d be easier if it was, but it’s just not; and somewhere along the way a very vocal portion of our population has managed to forget that the world we live in has many different shades of grey.  Life is about choices, and we are so incredibly fortunate to live in a country where we have so many choices. 
 
Those farmers in South Dakota?  They chose to raise beef cattle, and they are doing so to the best of their ability despite the tough times they are currently facing.  That is their choice, and it is a choice people across this country make.  We have access to safe and affordable beef, as well as a wealth of other products such as leather, crayons, medicines, adhesives and so much more, because of this choice.  The people who are opposed to using animals for food and other products?  That is their choice – and they are welcome to make that choice if they feel it is the best one for themselves.  There are plenty of plant based protein alternatives.

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That mom doing her best to raise her kids?  She has my full sympathy.  Everyone seems to have an opinion on how parents should be raising their kids.  During the course of a conversation about the pros and cons of different agricultural practices I was asked if I would or did feed my children Bt corn.  (Bt corn is a variety of GMO corn that has been modified so that it naturally produces the Bt toxin, which is lethal to some insects but does not affect humans.)  My answer was yes, because I trust the science and the research that has gone into the product – which did not sit well with the person asking the question.  But again, it comes down to choice.  We raise both GMOs and non-GMOs as well as cattle on our farm, and I would not raise and sell something that I would not be willing to use myself.  Does that mean that everyone has to use those products?  Absolutely not!  If your preference is to purchase organic products or non-GMO varieties of products that have the potential to be genetically modified, that is completely your choice.

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The problem is that while we are all free to choose, we are not free to dictate someone else’s choice.  Each person must make the choice that works best for themselves and their families – and they are many different factors that affect those choices.  But when we decide that our choices should be someone else’s, or when we are so focused on how “right” our choice is that we cannot see that another choice can be just a “right”, then we end up with that line in the sand.
 
Those shades of grey – they are many and they are varied.  And we each have to pick the shade that we can live with.  But here is the key – before you choose your shade I would encourage you to take a step back and take that breath.  Take some time even and “do your research”.  Ask questions, but be ready to really listen to the answers.  And look for both sides of the story.  If you hear something that concerns you, dig a little deep and reach out to someone who can help you understand the other side, because there is a good chance that the truth lies somewhere in between.  Make your choices, but make them from an informed, rational, factual position rather than an emotional one (which is harder than it sounds).  We all want what is best for ourselves, our families, our homes, and our environment, and that might look different for different people.  But whatever your choice, realize that it may not be someone else’s, and that’s okay.  Let’s work on erasing that line in the sand and taking a moment to listen to the other side – you might find that those shades of grey can get a little closer if you do.
 
Monday, July 17, 2017
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