In-fighting and dismissive assumptions without inquiry and empathy are barriers to creating a better food system.
“Meat-eaters are murderers.”
“Vegans/lab meat enthusiasts are dumb.”
“We need better meat or no meat.”
I’ve heard all of these; I’ve said variations of them, too, but our culture of combative vitriol and instant dismissal of alternative perspectives is a challenge to scaling a better food system.
What would happen if we approached opposition with inquiry and empathy instead?
“Meat-eaters are murderers.”
As an omnivore, my instinctual response might be full of four-letter words and I rally an outrage campaign. I’d validate my negativity bias and learn that my emotional range exists of only 1s and 0s. What outcome would this response likely create?
Perhaps it’s a bit like this Thanksgiving dinner from The Year of Outrage…
Everyone—family, girlfriends, soon-to-be-ex-husbands, co-workers, childhood friends—are seated around that table, eating that turkey. Except for your vegetarian cousin. What the hell is up with her? Can’t she just pretend for grandma’s sake? You know what would be hilarious? To show her a bunch of pictures of meat, with funny captions. Except whoops, it turns out she came prepared with videos of animals being brutally slaughtered. And the fight spreads out around the table during the salad course, but is quickly forgotten once the turkey comes out and your brother brings up Benghazi. Thanksgiving is ruined.
Reactions like these create a cycle. A cycle where we get outraged at each other, grow numb to the issues at hand and are rendered useless, or worse: destructive.
Our outrage affects our ability to focus on the problems and solutions that really matter.
When everyone is looking for something to get mad about, truly bad actors escape our attention; and when we indulge in the satisfaction of lighting our match in a blaze of outrage, someone, or something, else is left to contend with the ashes.
Nature and the vision of a regenerative food system are too often set ablaze by our addiction to viral negativity and self-righteousness.
What if we tried a different tactic towards conversations that don’t align with our existing worldviews?
Which has a better chance of a productive outcome? Conversational warfare and its power contests or a disarming debate with a lens of inquiry and empathy?
In a modern world when we are separated by screens and only able to communicate in tiny snippets of text, we gravitate towards the former, but true progress is within the latter.
Getting furious creates opponents.
Being curious creates collaborators.
Climate change and regenerative food systems have plenty of opponents.
To create the meaningful change we seek, we need more collaborators.
Wise farmer gets the perfect revenge on a car salesman who cheated him on a truck. “A wise old farmer went to town to buy a new pickup truck that he saw advertised in the paper for a certain price. After telling the salesman which truck he wanted, they set down to do the paperwork. The salesman handed the farmer the bill, and the farmer declared, “This isn’t the price I saw!...” Click here to read how this farmer turned the table on his car salesman.
The Year of Outrage is a chronicle of mostly forgotten outrages that affords a chance to look back and reflect on a few specific instances when good was achieved—and lots more where nothing was gained at some cost. “From righteous fury to faux indignation, everything we got mad about in 2014—and how outrage has taken over our lives.” Read it here.
Nicole Dooling & Michael Frey - Dirt & Mariah Vineyards, The World’s First Savory Institute Global Land To Market Verified Regenerative Vineyard by the Organic Wine Podcast. How do you transition a multi-generational winery to be the first Savory Institute Global Land To Market Verified regenerative vineyard in the world? Communication, collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to working with nature and each other. Tune into this episode to learn how Nicole and Michael worked with their family to transition Mariah Vineyards to a regenerative ecosystem teeming with life and how winemakers and consumers alike can adopt a more nature-first perspective.
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