Do you want to know what truly terrifies me, what my subconscious worries about even while I’m sleeping? Judgement. To be specific, I’m scared of judgements based on emotion alone. The scariest part of the emotion-based judgement is the rate at which it infects people around them.
If you weigh up your emotions with logic and still find my actions wanting, I’ll consider your findings. If you judge me purely with feelings, be prepared for probing questions until you think about why you feel that way.
Picture this, if you will. You’re on a twenty-four-hour flight, and there happens to be a baby seated within a few rows of you. I know; most of you just groaned. Now, imagine the flight attendant has seen the baby and started emotionally bracing themselves for a tough trip. A few of the passengers are doing the same. The parents have prepared for the tension, to the extent that they’ve even bought earplugs for anyone who may want them. This scenario can go one of two ways.
1) A passenger steps onto the plane and visibly gets frustrated at the sight of a baby. The people surrounding this passenger start to bristle as well. The tension mounts, and the passenger chooses to remain in that feeling. Everyone has a rough flight, potentially because the baby can sense the emotions.
2) A passenger enters the plane and has the same initial reaction but keeps their frustration to themselves. Upon seeing how much forethought the parents have put into this flight, this passenger thinks through the potential scenarios. After feeling and then thinking, they offer to help with anything they need so everyone can have a calm flight. The passengers surrounding them take that optimism on board, and the mood warms toward the young family. The flight attendant also calms down, and everything goes smoothly.
The first reaction is a judgement based solely on emotion. The second is a judgement based on emotion and reasoned with logic. Sure, there are a thousand other ways this scene could end based on either kind of judgement, but let’s not get hung up on that. My point is that emotions alone are dangerous. Emotions coupled with reasoning are how we create meaningful solutions.
So, why do emotional judgements send a chill up my spine? Why do they make me lose sleep at night? I farm, and when farming goes wrong, there is always the potential for an emotional reaction. It generally involves human injuries, animal welfare problems, or environmental issues, and all of these areas elicit instinctual emotions. Nobody watches a video of a mishandled animal without feeling pain, guilt, anger, or frustration. Everybody responds to the news of a workplace death with sorrow, anger, and maybe even rage.
I fear these reactions because they breed. I’m scared of them because the social media saturation we live in thrives off creating those reactions. I lose sleep over them because the breeding ground of these reactions is a population so vast that I can’t possibly provide the logic to ground their fears. They terrify me because the people with those emotions increasingly have the power to outlaw how I farm. The ways that I, ironically, produce food for them.
I hope that for every emotional decision-maker, there is a calm, logical thinker. I hope that if we, as farmers, share our story, we can provide a rational grounding. I’m not religious, but I pray that I can help at least one person build calm thoughts around these provocative situations. Perhaps, in time, we can start to decrease the visceral reactions that create knee jerk policies in politics that can break businesses and families apart.