My husband took our 10-year-old (okay, almost 11) son, Joe, to the dentist before Christmas for his regular check-up. Afterwards, the dentist made a point of coming out to the reception room to tell him that Joe was such a nice boy - well behaved and polite and he actually responded to her questions and asked her how she was doing. She admitted that, in her experience, not many kids his age are like that.
As parents, of course, this kind of feedback makes us proud. We have always made a point to stress the importance to Joe of being kind, polite and actually talking to people.
We want Joe to be a decent human being.
It's a pity there are people - adults, mind you - that don't come even close to the level of decency our 10-year-old can show towards others.
This week, a group of vegan activists essentially tried to take over a hashtag (#farm365) that was created by a farmer in Canada who decided to share at least one picture of his farm every day in 2015. Other farm bloggers and agriculture advocates also started to use the hashtag in support of this terrific project.
Unfortunately, the vegan activists caught wind of this and began leaving a plethora of vile, hate-filled messages on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of various agriculture advocates. I even had a couple on my personal blog's Facebook page.
On one hand, I'm doing a quick fist pump because this means these agriculture advocates are getting noticed and people are paying attention to what's being said. On the other hand, there is no way any human being deserves to be treated the way these activists - who, let's be honest here, really aren't paying attention to anything but their own agenda - have been treating these folks.
Listen, I understand we all have agendas, as my farm blogger friend, Wanda, so eloquently wrote earlier this week in her Minnesota Farm Living blog. I certainly advocate for animal agriculture - and specifically for eating turkey, chicken and eggs - because I believe in a well-balanced diet that includes animal proteins along with other food groups. And I believe in the integrity of livestock and poultry farmers and their important roles in our food system. But I'm pro-food choice and would never tell anyone what they should or shouldn't eat or guilt someone into feeling bad about their food choices.
I've also known a few vegans and vegetarians in my life and they aren't horrible people. The activists I witnessed this week, on the other hand, aren't interested in a conversation or even civil disagreement; they just bully their way around. In many ways, I'm saddened - though perhaps not surprised - that there are members of our society who are so cruel and intolerant and indecent. And I'm also grateful that I am surrounded by family and friends who are open-minded and understand that while we may not agree on everything, we respect the right to our own opinions.
In my career, I've had my fair share of run-ins with PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. - and even Animal Liberation Front, which threw a rock through our office window over Thanksgiving many years ago. That's been the worst of the violence and intolerance I've experienced, until this week.
This is the "autographed" rock that was thrown through the window of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association many years ago right after Thanksgiving by the Animal Liberation Front.
Thankfully, though, I have met many, many people in agriculture who are smart, talented, energetic and full of ideas and enthusiasm. I also saw many people this week come to the defense of the agriculture advocates using the hashtag #farm365. These are the kind of people who give me hope that the world remains a decent place.
This is also why I remain committed to showing the strength, diversity, importance, and human side of agriculture to our world. A few radical activists on Facebook or Twitter won't change my mind about that - I'll just hit "delete" and move on.