Of farmers, people like the rest of us and political correctness
I grew up in a small North Dakota farm town. A businessman there, who was active in the church my family attended, was partially paralyzed. Though he had the use of his arms, he couldn't use his legs and was confined to a wheelchair. I saw him re...
I grew up in a small North Dakota farm town. A businessman there, who was active in the church my family attended, was partially paralyzed. Though he had the use of his arms, he couldn’t use his legs and was confined to a wheelchair. I saw him regularly, and his unspoken, but unmistakable attitude was always, “I’m no different from you. Treat me that way.” I tried to do that, and hope I succeeded. (He’s dead now, after a long, productive life.)
Years ago, in another professional existence, I wrote a feature story about a man with a disability. Like the businessman I knew up growing, the man I wrote about didn’t want want pity or special consideration. He just wanted to be treated like the rest of us. The story emphasized that, and was, I thought, an affirmation of his value as a human being.
To my surprise, I got a phone call shortly after the story was published. A woman lambasted for using the term “disabled person” in the story. Anybody who uses “disabled person” instead of “person with disabilities” doesn’t care about the person, only his or her disability, the woman said. I said she was accusing me of something totally contrary to what I believe, and totally contrary to how the story was written. Didn’t matter to her. She ripped into me some more for using an awful term and being an awful person. It was, I suppose now, an early example of political correctness.
My cover story in the Aug. 15 issue of Agweek looks at three Upper Midwest farmers, All three are in wheelchairs, but remain active farmers with the help of special equipment. And all say the same thing: I’m a person like the rest of you. Treat me like you would anyone else.
Agriculture encompasses so much: politics, markets, weather, technology, crops, livestock and more. But at its core, ag (and Agweek) is about people. I think you’ll enjoy reading about these three farmers. I certainly appreciated the opportunity to visit them, and tell their stories.
Decide for yourself if they’re “disabled farmers” or “farmers with disabilities.” To me, they’re people like the rest of us. To me, they’re people to be treated like anyone else.