Bridge divides with respectful conversations

I’m not sure if it’s the winter blues or this new COVID-19 world we live in that is getting to me, but I feel drained lately. The world feels like it is in complete disarray, with everyone picking sides and bullying those who don’t share the same opinion.

Nobody can agree with anything. Social media gives everyone the opportunity to share their opinions with the world and a platform to argue and judge. The various media are overwhelming — and often misleading. You never know what or who to believe. All I see is division and doom and gloom, and it literally is soul-sucking.

The one thing I have realized is that no matter how much you argue with or criticize someone, you may never change their minds. But you know what may? Adult discussion. Debate and sharing real-life experiences. Telling your story.

Can you imagine a world where people used their opinions to create change — instead of arguing on social media?

I’m not talking about sharing information, your story or educational information. Those actions are important. I’m talking about the criticism, arguing and bashing that never seems to end.

I imagine this world regularly because I am involved in a world in which conversation, debate and agreeing to disagree happen — and the people still work together for the greater good. That “world” is the Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization in which farmers, agricultural business owners, farmland owners, ag students, industry employees and consumers from different backgrounds, beliefs, religions, political stances and more use their voices to make a difference.

The Farm Bureau was created more than 100 years ago right here in Ohio by a group of farmers trying to find solutions to the problems they were facing, and here we are today, still doing the same.

It’s easy to be cynical about politics. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a political person. Politics have never been on the list of things that make me tick. Quite honestly, before this job, politics were rarely discussed.

Some of you are probably laughing now because politics play into my current job pretty much daily. But I’ve learned through the Farm Bureau that relationships are important in every aspect of life, especially relationships in the political world. It should be important to you, too.

I recently had someone tell me they didn’t want to be a part of the Farm Bureau because the organization was “too political.” I respect that opinion. People are allowed to have opinions.

But that statement immediately made me wonder if that person has ever been involved in the grassroots process that makes the Farm Bureau one of the largest and most influential general farm organizations in the country. Our members establish policies right here in the county that guide the organization all the way to the national level. Grassroots movements guide these policies that affect our daily lives and the future of the food and agriculture industries.

Farmers, ranchers, people whose livelihoods depend on the health of agriculture tell their story, and they create local, statewide and national movements that create change.

With less than 2% of the world’s population being involved in agriculture, it is critical that those people tell the story of agriculture and use their voice to educate and make a difference. Farm Bureau members’ advocacy efforts ensure all of agriculture speaks with one voice.

I encourage you to be a part of the Farm Bureau — and to be a part of moving agriculture and our nation forward. It all starts on the farm. It all starts with YOU.

Submitted by Mandy Orahood,  an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties. She can be reached by email.

OFBF Mission:  Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.