For some weeks, I've been working on a blog item about divisiveness. It was to be based on stepping back, looking at the forest and recognizing how our DTN pages of late continue to be filled with the fruit of that divisiveness: NAFTA wrangling, immigration issues, health care, the so-called death tax. Oh, and what's that weed killer everyone is talking about again? Yes, of course, dicamba.
As my article sat waiting for my wayward muse, I stumbled on to a piece by the columnist Bret Stephens, "The Dying Art of Disagreement," which appeared in last Sunday's New York Times opinion pages.
Don't turn your nose up yet. If you don't know me well, then you haven't heard the not-so-infrequent rants I have about that paper, particularly the way it covers commercial agriculture. Not because I disagree with the premise or critique of our world. To critique is fair. What sets my graying hair on fire is that I find the reporting often incomplete and sometimes just flat inaccurate. I've often said that if a modern newspaper reporter was as incomplete about a subject like Libor rates as they can be about GMOs, pesticide usage or livestock production, they'd get thrown out of the newsroom. Along with the editors who should have been more critical.
So, divisiveness. Mr. Stephens has done a remarkable job of accomplishing what I labored to put into words. It can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/…
Fair warning, it's a long piece. The column is actually the text of the lecture Stephens gave at the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner in Sydney, Australia. Yes, at some point it defends the profession of journalism, as do I as unabashedly as I defend farming, but that's not why I share it.
I was so compelled because of the beautiful way he makes the argument for arguing. Society, community, Stephens reminds us, is based on agreement. We have to agree at a certain level to bind together in civilization. But the fuel that feeds progress in any society, and preserves our individuality within it, is disagreement. Educated disagreement. Disagreement based on knowing both sides of an issue and choosing the side that seems more logical to you, but recognizing others might see things differently.
I encourage you to give it a read. Perhaps several.
Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @greghorstmeier
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