Public Speaker on Public Issues

 

TEA BAGS, PIGS & COWBOYS

 

These three words are tried and true ‘messengers’ when Americans have something they want to communicate. Who would have thought?  

On tax day Americans turned to ‘tea bags and tea parties’ to try and get their government to listen to their serious concerns about spiraling taxation and national debt. Let’s hear it for agriculture! It’s ironic that in this high tech information age when a serious message needs to be sent to the highest levels of government, we use an ‘ag product’ to communicate. No e-mails, texting or twittering necessary.  

Another ‘ag’ messenger in the national media right now is the pig. Pigs are always used to symbolize ‘pork barrel projects’ finding their way from Capitol Hill to states throughout our nation. Tax season is when the annual pork reports are laid bare for the public to see, and this year was no exception.  

The reference to cowboys is used year round as either a noun or a verb. They have negative and positive connotations. Negative is when one wants to characterize someone as too cocky or too brazen—something of a bully. Positive is when you want to convey honesty, strength or wholesomeness—a plain and simple American if you will.  

How interesting that in spite of the complexities of today, with its innumerable high tech communication terms we draw upon the age old arena of agriculture to find the ‘messengers’ to speak our hearts. There is both relevance and significance here. Each is something of which to be proud.  

These terms signify core values that our nation holds dear. No amount of wordsmithing or ‘moving on’ has changed that, nor will it.  

Getting one’s message out is something rural America talks about a lot, but about which we do very little relative to the magnitude and scope of the need. We’re not referring to our ag-related media forums. We’re talking about a consistent communication presence in the urban arenas where our issues, life style and value systems rarely make the talk radio or TV shows. We allow ourselves to be crowded out by everything else.  

We insult our own intelligence and ingenuity by employing the ever popular phrases of…we have no way of penetrating those liberal markets; it costs way to much, our information is not news worthy or of interest to the general public….and on and on. These ‘comfort food’ phrases are as absurd as the line of nonsense we nationally swallowed when we were told the only man in our nation smart enough and ready enough to handle the financial crisis as Secretary of the Treasury was Timothy Geithner.  

What we tell ourselves, or allow others to tell us guides much of what we do. The issues of rural America should not come to the attention of the general public only as debates. There is much we have to offer that is news worthy, more than interesting, and valuable in terms of public discussion. We need to take financial, ethical and personal responsibility for bringing the messages of who we are and what we do to an urban public that would welcome such substantive content.  

The fact that we now see regular programming about logging (Ax Men) is an indicator that media penetration is possible. Even this program has yet to incorporate the soci-economic correctness of responsibly harvesting trees, but that will come with time. What’s important is that our ag related industries recognize that there is now a forestry related program watched by millions of satisfied viewers.  

The highly successful program Dirty Jobs is another example of how hungry the urban mind set is to learn about things outside of their normal experience. Getting dirty from a distance is interesting and obviously fun for folks. Message received!  

We can and should learn from AND repeat these successes. Agriculture is a nation building AND nation sustaining industry. There never has been, nor will there ever be a nation built that was not grounded in agriculture. How’s that for a message?  

We have a lot of ground work to get done! Message delivered!  

Tag Line: Kathleen Jachowski is a free lance writer and public speaker on natural resources and cultural issues. She also serves as Executive Director for Guardians of the Range. Opinions expressed are her own. She can be reached at: shoes@jachowskispeaks.com

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