Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stuck in the Middle -Again

The backdrop of thoughts for this post began last week. I took a day to drive out to Grand Island to deliver entries to the Prairie Wind Art Center for the Miniature show, so once again I had a good 3 hours for some think time. Always productive, this time I found the images and resulting pondering confusing and irritating. As a result, I put off putting anything down in letters, fearing my impulse would likely offend someone. Likely still will, but a post on Facebook by Harvest Public Media has sparked the urge once more. So, I will start with a disclaimer - This blog is only my opinion, which I have formed around my observations and personal experience. It is not intended to be critical of any individuals or groups, or of their respective opinions or stances.

It was a pleasant sunny day, and the interstate traffic was slowed into single file a good bit of the time by the dreaded orange cones. The need of men and machinery was apparent, and no one seemed to mind much. And of course the wind was blowing. I have been reminded of treks down this same stretch of road from 35 years ago, when the turn off at GI marked the half way mark home. That much hasn't changed. Neither of these was the source of my irritation. Rather, it was political.

The seasonal ads had planted the seed. Its primary season, and the vitreous messages pouring from every media outlet are as nauseous as ever. I never have taken to the black/white love/hate all or nothing tone of politics, but I have learned some selective hearing skills, and usually can deal with them. Until the Mommy Wars.  One quote, and the monster was released.

It bothered me. Memory serves me well from 35 years ago when it was fresh - for my generation at least. And in the past 3 years I have watched as my offspring discuss and adjust to find balance in the arena of finance and parenting, the difficulty the same, though decisions different. That alone was unsettling, but there was more.

I was thinking of the pieces I had just left at the Gallery. A picture of prairie. A ewe with twins. Stately Hereford bull. And a girl touching heads with a dark bay horse. How as a group, they make a statement about not just who I am, but where I came from. And not just me, but agriculture.

The panorama of the Platte was impressive that day. Flatland. Horizon broken only with the outlines of tree lines of villages. The grayish band hovering between  earth and sky was dust. An occasional plume of that dust could be traced back to a dot of red or green. Planting. Tractors as big as small houses for the most part, but a few 'small' farmers, the planters small enough you could easily count the rows.  Giant dust devils: larger and more numerous than I have seen in years, were frequent, and recent headlines swirled around in my mind.

Then, this morning, one line caught my eye. "or are you in the Middle"  And it all made sense. I'm back in the Middle again.  Only this time, its Ag War. Does anyone else see it coming? I really hope its just me.

An explanation is probably in order here.  I will use the Mommy Wars as an analogy. There, is issue comes down to Work and Daycare vs Stay at home Moms. Add on all of the associated issues of cloth or disposables, store bought or home made, and quality vs quantity, and you have enough ammunition for a major battle. Of course, both sides have valid points as well as the same claim of the over all well being of the child as the long term objective.  But experience and time has shown me that neither 'side' is entirely right nor wrong.

So, on to the Ag Wars. It has come to my attention,( possibly amplified by media - social and conventional,) that a divide is occurring. You can almost divide the news articles by title. Pink slime, grass fed, Organic, GMO, animal welfare, cage free, and on and on. And I won't mention the government here. The problem I sense that is coming is not that people are taking sides according to their personal beliefs, as that is to be expected: rather, that there are flags being planted, and ground claimed. (Pun intended.)  But just like Mommies, there is no one best position.

I find it troubling. Words and names are being ostracized and often vilified. Chemical, Monsanto, pesticide and the like on one side, but so are Organic, green, and humane from the other. I'm not sure if either side gets it.

I could back up my apprehensions, but I'm not sure if anyone will even buy it. Meanwhile, I am, as they say, riding the fence. I am taking the stand, much as I did in the Mommy wars, that both sides are right. It comes down to choice. What sacrifices you and your kin are willing to make. But you do what you have to do to make it work. Most will fall in the middle. Financial and economic factors must be considered, and perhaps even drives the issues. But even that coin has two sides.

Politically, I get confused trying to assign red and blue to individual issues. Maybe because each side of the coin is either red or blue. Then when you toss them into the air, and they spin around together, the vision becomes purple.  Yeah. I think I like that.  Only I don't like being red on one side blue on the other.  I'm a painter. I'd rather just mix them up inside, they already are, and be purple.

It is my personal opinion that the Ag industry and its people can not afford to take side against each other. If, like all the Mommies out there, we must keep the over all well being of the land as our objective. I think thats a given. Name calling leads to bullying, and we can all agreed that's not good.

I'm in the middle all right. I see valid arguments from both sides. But wars are a waste of resources of both sides. Resources both sides claim a need to conserve.  I don't think its the same 'Middle' that was meant, but thanks for the use of the word.

Thanks also for the focus to rant. Next time, I hope my post is more positive. After all, its growing season. Guess some thoughts could use some cultivating now and again too.

Think green, and put down some new roots.

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