No. 400

One of the most difficult things for any of us to do is to get away from our roots. It's those early years of growing up whether on a farm, a small town, large city or even someone whose parents were constantly on the move that colors the experiences and values that launch us into the future. In my case, most of my growing up years were spent in a small town in Southeast Arkansas. My parents operated a small restaurant and consequently every time we eat out, I have a deeper appreciation for the people who serve me and do my best to treat them with courtesy and respect.
Another experience I had when I was growing up that has given me an appreciation even to this day, is the year my father and I decided to raise a crop of roast-in-ear corn just East of town. On the outside the corn was beautiful, but unfortunately we didn't get the chemicals applied at the right time and the actual ears turned out to be full of worms. We sold most of that crop to a produce company in Little Rock and even though I was just a young lad, I have often regretted that we took their money and didn't tell them the whole story about that corn. Several years later I make the decision that I would never knowingly take unfair advantage of anyone again.
A few years ago I had the privilege of going on a mission trip with a group from my church to Denison, Iowa, to help a sister church build a new building. Some time before we got there the memories of my earlier days and the experience with roast-in-ear corn began to flood my mind, because I saw more corn in a week than I had seen the rest of my whole life. It was beautiful. You could travel down the highway and corn higher than your head would be on both sides of the road and when you topped a hill, you see corn as far as the eye could see.
Going back to what I was saying earlier about our growing up years coloring our experiences and values, these people, unlike my dad and I who were just dabbling around the edges, were earning their living from this important corp. As you probably know, corn is used in a multitude of products that contribute to our diet and now they are also burning corn as a fuel to heat homes, businesses and in many other ways. I love the people in the Midwest because they not only feed us, but because they are just good, honest, hard working people. A special word of thanks to those of you who have taken the time to write to me. I deeply appreciate it.
To continue my thoughts about corn, the other day I ran across an interesting article titled "Growing Good Corn" that contains an important principle that I'm sure all corn farmers know, but some of us may not. The reason I want to share this story is because this principle has a two-fold message and applies to many other areas of life as well. The story begins; "There was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.
The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked. "Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn." This farmer is much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.
As you can see, this story is really not about corn, as important as it is, but more about our values and our relationships with other people. We depend on other people for almost everything we need or have. There is no product in your home or mine that someone else has not had a hand in producing. Our country is the greatest in the world because our system allows us to do that and keep a portion of what we earn from our labors. The thing that matters most is our freedom, because our way of life is only possible because we are free.
As a free people, so it is in other dimensions of life as well. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that a bully must be taken to the woodshed and taught a lesson so that everyone else can live in peace. Those of us who are peace loving and choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)