Whether You’re Rural or Urban, Listen to Understand

Musings of a Pig Farmer
by Larry Sailer

You know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”  Apparently some pictures are worth several thousand words!

When I posted this picturesque farm image on my Facebook page last week, I had no idea that it would strike such a cord with some of my friends.  This one photo prompted one of my Facebook friends, Janice Person, to pen a couple of blogs about it.   She even created her own thought-provoking photo.  Here’s an excerpt from JP’s personal blog:

At the end of the day, it’s hard to feel removed from something that not even your grandparents felt a connection to… that’s something we share whether we’re urban or rural. We share a deep interest in wanting our children to have the best the world can offer but maybe our perspective guides us to think of those things differently. We all value relationships with the people we count on day in and day out and almost all of us could find room for a few more friends at dinner time.

If farmers continue to view city folks as removed from the reality farmers know and city folks continue to see farmers as insulated from today’s world, can we move the conversation forward on things we all care about? Or do you think by taking some of the initial steps to understand the other’s perspective…. by focusing on the fact that we don’t understand things from another person’s point of view or by trying to see the world from where they sit, do you think we may change our own way of thinking?

My abbreviated response to Janice was this, “That is a great point, and it’s why I have said that farmers must first listen.”  By listening to Janice and others who share similar viewpoints, it helps me see things from a completely different perspective.  Listening helps create understanding.  My sentiments were shared by Anne Burkholder (aka Feed Yard Foodie), who posted this comment May 24 on Janice’s blog site:

Janice, you are so very right – thank you so much for sharing. We must all “listen to understand, instead of listening to respond.” Empathy is a powerful tool and a good conversation cannot occur without it. I spent the first 22 years of my life in a city and the last 15 on a farm in rural Nebraska. Urban dwellers and rural folks have more in common than they sometimes think. At the very least, we all are interested in “where our food comes from” and that is certainly an important reason to have a good conversation that results in both of us learning from each other.

If you find this dialogue interesting, I’d like to invite you to read Janice’s full post on Just Farmers entitled, “Any Benefits from a Change in Perspective? You might even feel compelled to join in the conversation!