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Embracing our past helps navigate today’s changing world

Acting from the heart

By Heather Lang, North Dakota Farm Bureau

Remember when car windows had to be manually rolled down? Or having to fidget through your key ring to find the key that unlocked your vehicle’s doors and then the other key to start your vehicle? The high beam switch used to be on the floor of your vehicle and it was common practice to pull up to the gas station where an attendant would happily come out, fill your car, wash your windows and have a true friendly conversation.

These days, everything is at our fingertips: the high beams and the buttons to control everything you could think of. Keys are becoming a thing of the past and so are friendly conversations. Most of our farm machinery is all run by joysticks now. It’s almost like playing a video game.

Remember when your world revolved around your friends? You didn’t have a care, could trust anyone and all you had to worry about was being a kid. I would ride my bike to any of my friends’ houses or even to the local sporting field without my parents having to be in fear. I remember many nights having long conversations with my friends over the phone that was connected to the wall and always asking my parents to get a longer cord. Families would meet around the dinner table nightly to share the events of the day and catch up. Now parents worry if their kids are in good reliable hands at their friend’s house. Kids have to deal with bullying, turned to cyber-bullying, and not feeling like they fit in, which leads to depression and anxiety.

Sundays were reserved for God and family. Families would dress in their Sunday best, head to church and all kids were expected to sit still like a statue. It was a day of rest and bonding. It wasn’t rushed, but rather enjoyed. Hearing stories from “back in the day” from your grandparents was something you looked forward to and cherished. Today life is so rushed, we feel like if we aren’t going somewhere every hour we must be failing on some level; failing our kids, ourselves or our families.

Respect was expected. It was taught and earned. Saying “yes, ma’am and no, sir” was common practice. You would never allow an elder to stand while you sat in a comfortable seat. You held the door open for others, sat at the table until everyone was done or until you were excused. Entire families were expected to help around the house, yard and farm without being told. And the golden rule, “Do onto others as you’d have them do onto you,” was a phrase people not only believed in, but one they lived by.

Now I can’t help but feel like everyone is talking, yet no one is communicating. It’s easy to feel tied down, lonely and suffocated even though everything is at our fingertips. And sometimes it seems we are more focused on how we appear to others rather than how we make others feel. Kindness is no longer king. Our friends are tracked in numbers, yet we have no one to turn to.

Adulting is hard in this ever-changing world, but I promise you, we can make it if we can embrace kindness and cherish the good moments. Taking lessons from our past can help us make lasting, meaningful relationships, relationships that help build our strength for when the hard things are thrown our way. Because with the love of God, family and friends backing us, we CAN do anything.

Heather is the District 7 representative on the NDFB Promotion and Education Committee. This year she was appointed to a position on the American Farm Bureau Federation Promotion and Education Committee. She and her husband and family farm near Sterling, N.D.