It has been hard to concentrate with all of the news coming from our nation’s capital these past days. Each media outlet that I find myself following seems to only be focusing on the extremes of each side. Unfortunately this leaves little space for dialog or commitment to resolve the issues at hand. And there are many, occurring at the intersections of wealth inequality, climate change impacts, public health, homelessness and substance abuse, to name only a few.
Up here in Vermont we have our fair share of conservative folks and many progressive folks. Before the events on Wednesday I really had hope that we could leave behind so much of the divisiveness of the past four years, but it will take time to heal our wounds.
Having worked the land for many years I like to put my farmer hat on and ask, what would a farmer do in this circumstance? How would they bridge a great divide between themselves and a fellow farmer, perhaps on opposite poles politically, but living on the same land and in the same community?
I think they would discover what they could agree on, and focus less on being right.
We farmers make our living from the land, and the scale of our community means that we know our neighbors. People in town are not anonymous. They are members of the community.
In our small communities, farmers and others generally have limited political or financial capital. But they care about the community. They know that with a change in weather or a barn fire, they can rely on each other. It matters little that they know their neighbor’s political views. What’s more important is counting on them to lift a shovel when another is in need, or share a meal if someone needs company. Farmers show us that our community is stronger when we focus on what we have in common, rather than what makes us different.
My wish for the coming year is that—over a well-set table of healthy food (whatever you choose that to be)—we get to know each other again, beginning with what we can agree upon and what brings us joy. Come together over a good meal and compassionate conversation. Discuss the issues of our time that need our attention, and do so in the spirit of being a community. Let’s be the community we want to see, one meal at a time.
With respect and gratitude,