Opinion: It’s all in your perspective


Did you know if you rearrange the letters in the word “dormitory,” you can also spell “dirty room”?

Or that the letters in “slot machines” also spell “cash lost in ’em” and the phrase “a decimal point” also becomes “I’m a dot in place.”

It’s all in your perspective. It’s all in how you perceive things, how you see things, how you read things. Your perspective colors everything you see, say and do.

And consider this: Of all the people in the United States…

* 22 percent don’t remember the Bicentennial;

* 33 percent think we’ve always been on the moon;

* 50 percent are too young to remember the JFK assassination; and

* 70 percent don’t remember “before TV”!

We all know we see things differently. If you live in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, your perceptions will be different than if you lived in Novelty, Ohio, or Enon Valley, Pa. And even life events change our perspectives. Spouses, children, death and divorce all rearrange our window on the world.

But while we all agree that our perspectives are different, and make for a healthy, diverse community, it’s difficult for us to recognize the limitations that our perspectives impose on how we see things.

Perspectives are like blinders: They restrict our field of vision.

Those of us in agriculture often wish to jolt the perspectives of our nonfarm consumers. Agriculture is an undercelebrated resource; it’s just “been there,” quietly serving consumers, receding into the background.

“They don’t really understand what it takes to produce the food they consume,” we say. “If we could just get them to take off their blinders, just for a few moments, they’d see just how important we really are.”

But why is agriculture important?

This country has been built on the success of our agricultural economy — from trade balances, to employment of a large segments of the population, to conveniences that make our standard of living possible. All these find their roots in agriculture.

In short, people are free to enjoy a standard of living that is unique to mankind because their most basic daily needs are met with a very small investment of time.

In January, I received a thoughtful letter from a Trumbull County reader who was responding to a column I had written. He admits he’s a “hobby farmer” who lives on 43 acres that is cropped by a neighbor. Now retired, this gentleman also collects antique farm equipment and tools and he and his wife exhibit at antique equipment shows in the summer and do lectures and programs with early primitive hand farm tools.

“In the last 200 years,” this gentleman wrote, “we here in America have gone from a society having about 95 percent of our people directly engaged in agriculture to less than 2 percent at the present time…

“This wonderful productivity of American agriculture is the very basis of our standard of living. No longer do we have to scratch an existence out of the ground and because of the freedom from want, we can all concentrate on becoming whatever we wish.”

Do consumers have to understand, really understand, where their food or clothing comes from? What is really important to know is that your food is safe and comes from a reliable source. The farmers in this country are the best in the world at producing large volumes of safe food.

We are all becoming more specialized in our lives — our perspectives illustrate that. And in the strictest sense, we don’t NEED to know anything about most anybody else to get by individually.

But as a society, we need to know what sustains our lives. The importance of agriculture doesn’t get much more basic than that. And that’s a perspective we all should consider.


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