Freedom to voice opinion important

Columnist voices opinion

The world is full of people with opinions.

In fact, I don’t think there is one person in the world without an opinion about something. Which is important, because without different opinions, nothing would ever change.

Take John Froelich for example.

If he didn’t have the opinion that the (previously used) steam-powered engines for tractors were too heavy, bulky, and caused a risk of fire to the grain and stubble in the fields, he never would have invented the first gasoline-powered tractor. Opinions in agriculture have brought us to where we are today – a successful industry with technology and science that assists us in continuing to feed the ever-changing world.

In today’s day and age, we have abundant access to abundant information, which leads to an abundance of opinions. Yet still I say, without those opinions we would be lost. In agriculture in particular, because we are so closely connected to the consumer (via producing their food), we experience a tremendous amount of influence from their opinions.

In some cases this does affect us negatively, but ultimately it will see the industry improve in one way or another. As a young person I’ll be the first to admit that accepting the opinions of others is not easy, and I’m sure most everyone would agree. Our society has come to the point that it believes there is one right opinion, and every other opinion is wrong, and that simply is not true.

However it is a hard bias to overcome.

I heard a doctor say once that the greatest sign of intelligence is asking questions. The organization ‘Agriculture More Than Ever’ encourages farmers to allow the public to ask questions about what we do on the farm, and I think that is such an important thing to promote.

Encouraging questions encourages intelligence, and isn’t that exactly what this world needs? We use our knowledge to form our opinions. An opinion is proof of an independent mind. However, more importantly, the ability to change an opinion based on facts is a skill taught only by intelligence. We see that in our society all the time, and especially in politics.

Over time we discover the benefits and flaws of a particular political party, opinions change, and in the next election we see a shift in opinion, which is reflected by votes for a new political party. Whether we agree with the shift or not, we must appreciate that without changes of opinion, nothing would ever change at all.

Furthermore, we carry a responsibility to promote this change, however, we must do so carefully.

I believe as human beings we first have a responsibility to respect one another, and our individual opinions; then we have a responsibility to find real facts to form our opinions on; third we have a responsibility to use these fact-formed opinions to invoke change. I say the best way to do this is to have both passion and compassion.

Be passionate about what you believe in.

For me, that is agriculture. I am passionate about seeing agriculture grow and succeed, and I have my own ideas about how to achieve that. But we must also have compassion for those who disagree with, or don’t understand our personal stance. There is no such thing as a right or wrong opinion. We must embrace our differences, and use them to create a better, brighter future.

But that is, after all, just my opinion.

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