No. 278

With the coming of advanced technology a new day dawned in America. This is true in all areas of our society but none more so than the enterprise of farming. Today’s farmers are more sophisticated than ever before in the history of the human race. They are business people with high-tech equipment who handle thousands of dollars each year. Most young farmers now have a college degree and are skilled not only in equipment operation but in business management, personnel management, animal health, computers and much, much more. They no longer get up in the morning and go slop the hogs, milk the cows or feed the chickens. Most farmers are specialized in two or three enterprises such as beef cattle, small grains or dairy production.
Now in light of this you can understand why a farmer wrote to me a few weeks ago and he had a slight irritation. A letter from Warren Wing begins, “I am a farmer in North Central Oklahoma. I have been a full time farmer for forty years and still live on and farm the place where I was reared. I read your column weekly as published in the Arkansas City Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas. A few weeks ago I read your column, “It’s Time For Some O’l Fashioned Manners” and I couldn’t agree with you more.”
At this point let me break in and tell you why Warren Wing wrote to me and tell you why he was irritated. He had just read one of my columns where I featured a class of elementary students who had written me letters about the importance of good manners. He picked up on one of the students comments that contained the words “country hick.” Based on what I said earlier no one who lives in the country and spends his or her days in a $100,000 air conditioned tractor or combine wants to be called a country hick.
After getting his letter I wrote him back to assure him that this young elementary student did not have him or people of his status in mind when he used the offensive term. Now to be honest, we all know some “country hicks” because values, customs and methods vary in other parts of the country. However there is a lesson to be learned here. First, it’s so easy to paint with a broad brush and when I explained this to Warren Wing he agreed that maybe he had over reacted a bit. However, there is also a deeper lesson to be learned that applies to the majority of the people in this nation.
In our politically correct society there is no way to keep from offending some people. We just have to accept that as a part of life. There is however, a need for all of us to be more careful when it comes to labels, slang and terms that are offensive to many, people, especially those who are in the minority. Here I could give you any number of words that are offensive but I think you know what I am talking about. A good rule of thumb to always keep in mind is “If it hurts or demeans another human being, don’t say it.” There are many complimentary words we can use when referring to others and making these a part of our vocabulary will do wonders for our own self-esteem.
We all have our pet peeves and one that set Warren Wing off was the term ‘country hick.’ For me, it’s the fact that I am too good at reading lips. I really get discouraged when I watch a sporting event on television and the camera is on the coach right after a disputed call. While I can’t hear them, I can tell exactly what many of them are saying and it’s not nice. I’m so simple minded that I think to myself, if this is the kind of language they use when the television cameras are on them, I can only imagine what they say during practice. We all need to set a good example, don’t you agree? (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)