I’ll assume many of you saw this Dodge Ram Truck commercial during the Super Bowl. Paul Harvey wrote this heartfelt blessing, a mixture of praise for pious workers of the land and God as Creator. Personally, I found his words to be meaningful.
During the commercial, I was sitting next to a farmer of a small dairy. He is a man of integrity, honesty, and grit. He could have starred in that commercial . . . except that the American public doesn’t actually support people like him.
Yes, we love the idea of a small farmer. On a night of material excess, this was probably the most often praised commercial on the Facebook, blog, and Twitter spheres. The truth, however, is that we act in ways that negatively impact small farmers! We spend our money on processed foods that are derived from huge corn fields. You won’t find small farmers there. In fact, all the land has been purchased by huge companies who use machines as their work force. Local farmers, like the ones pictured in the commercial, are a dying breed, constantly being squeezed out of the business by their corporate competitors. If anything, Paul Harvey’s words serve as a eulogy, which celebrate a bygone era.
And here’s what really makes me mad: How dare a truck commercial celebrate farmers and their relationship with the environment! So many farms, from small to corporate, are being decimated by global climate change, a warming of the planet fueled in part by those gas-guzzling trucks!
Paul Harvey’s words are touching because they celebrate something more than farmers: they speak of community, of people who share values and support one another to pass those ideas to others. Here’s the tragic irony: we long for such community, even as we actively work to undermine it. Picture all those millions of people, wiping away tears from their eyes at a commercial, before turning back to eating their mass-produced foods in the privacy of their living rooms.
I am no Paul Harvey. But let me issue you a challenge. If something about that commercial touched you, find a way to buy an item that was grown and sold by a local farmer today! Here is a great place to start: http://www.localharvest.org/ – if you know of another site, please note in the comment section below.
Because here’s the thing: We are in this together. The farmer that I sat beside during the Super Bowl doesn’t want our praise. He certainly doesn’t want to be eulogized. He wants our support! And I would dare to venture that it would be a gift from God if, by seeking to support our local farming community, more people did come to appreciate the environment and our responsibility for creation. May these motivations be the basis for our community: values that are lived, rather than exploited.