OK. I have been blogging for a week now. Blogging is something I have thought about doing for a while. I just didn’t have the impetus to start investigating the process. The Ag Communication class I’m taking at Missouri State “pushed the rock off the top of the hill”. Are you ready for my “Manifesto”?
Wikipedia (which I LOVE!) has the following definition of a “Manifesto”. “A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus and/or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance.” I realize this is somewhat grandiose for a small little blog. After all, this blog may never be seen by more than a few of my Facebook and Twitter friends and those involved in my college class. Or, maybe it will. You never know what will catch the interest of the Net and go viral. Lets look at that whole “political, artistic, life stance” part of the above definition.
I passionately believe in the values inherent in people connecting to the land on which they live. This connection may be in little things such as planting a flower or a tree, watching a sunset from your front porch, or feeding hummingbirds in your back yard. The ultimate expression of this is dependance on your land to provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through agriculture.
I’m referring back to Wikipedia again: “Agriculture, also called farming or husbandry, is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, drugs and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.” I was raised on a farm. My parents were raised on farms. My wife’s parents were raised on farms. My wife spent a lot of time on her Grandparent’s farm. My children invested time on their Grandparents farm so they were exposed to some of the realities of farm life. These realities include the vagaries of weather, the fragility of life, what “sustenance and enhancement of life” entails, and a visceral knowledge of where food comes from. My grandchildren are one step further away from experiencing the realities of farm living at this point. I believe they need to connect to these realities in order to form a solid basis on which to make the decisions which will influence their lives.
The Political aspect of my manifesto is that everybody needs to face life with the type of personal responsibility that comes from things like knowing you have to feed the cows (pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, CHIILDREN!) or they won’t get fed. We all need to confront the Real World. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places Physiologic needs like air, water, and food as the basis that has to be met before anything else in life can be sustainable. Personally experiencing a cow give birth or a field of wheat waving in the breeze as it goes into the combine explicitly defines how our physiologic needs are being met.
This is where the “Artistic” part of the Manifesto comes into play. It is physically impossible for everyone to directly experience the real world as expressed by Real World agriculture. It is impossible to try to supply a meaningful relationship between all the people in the United States and the physical reality of modern agriculture. There are too many people, there is too little time, it is too impracticable to attempt in a meaningful fashion. Part of the answer lies in media. A picture is worth a thousand words. A video can be worth way more. Words have painted pictures in our minds for thousands of years. Language was invented as a way to convey information. Artists convey ideas and emotions with the power to influence lives and change the world. “Give me Liberty or give me Death”. “Remember the Alamo”. “I have a dream”. Memes like these resonate through the years with the power to infect the hearts and minds of ordinary people resulting in extra-ordinary, even supra-ordinary life change. I am admittedly somewhat out of context but consider the Bible. James 3:5 states “…Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark”. I can only hope to spark thought in my Readers.
My life stance requires me to act. My Instructor in the first Ag Communication class of the semester passionately expressed how “we have to tell our story or someone else will”. Passion is a wonderful thing to watch. The eyes spark fire. The body leans in to the audience. The intensity of the voice is not in volume but in tone and tension. There is no possibility of passive non-involvement when someone speaks with true passion. My words may not carry the eloquence of the ages. My pictures may not embody “LIFE!”. My related experiences may not grab something deep inside you and yank it screaming into the light of a new and glorious world. Do not doubt that what I say is said with passion. I will tell my story and I will change the world with my little vignettes of life connected to agriculture. I will die trying.