By Kate Thiel
How many times have you heard this age-old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard it too many times to count.
Sometimes we need a little extra push to get our motor started, but too often those tough times strike when we’re already in the thick of it. It seems like life — particularly for folks in agriculture — has a way of pushing us to our limits, and sometimes beyond.
So in times like these, what if we paused instead of “get going?” (Because let’s face it: Not many farmers just up and quit without a fight!)
What if we took a time-out to express gratitude for what’s good in our lives, share our wisdom and experiences with a younger generation, seek out a helping hand or just converse with a friend having a tough go of it?
Sometimes that simple pause can have a huge impact — on yourself, your loved ones, your friends, coworkers and acquaintances.
As we in agriculture look to the future and reflect on the past, how can we learn from the trials and tribulations of our peers and elders?
After all, it’s human nature to look for patterns in our experience; they help us make sense of our circumstances, learn from our mistakes and hopefully suffer less in the meantime. We look for parallels and similarities between what’s going on now and what’s happened in the past because, as Winston Churchill warned us, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
When Mother Nature’s rollercoaster in the spring of 2012 decimated Michigan’s tree fruit crops, those who instinctively dove into the history books found the nearest precedent in 1945, when similar circumstances resulted in a similar outcome.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues ruining 2020 for everyone, we keep hearing comparisons to the so-called “Spanish” influenza that infected a third of the world’s population from 1918 to 1920.
History won’t change the weather or predict every new virus, but it still offers great lessons — provided both the student and the teacher show up for class — because there has to be a way for those with wisdom and experience to share it with those who most need it.
Kate Thiel is development manager for the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and a member of MFB’s Farm Stress & Mental Health Task Force.