Somewhere along the way, I think many of us in the cattle industry and the nation as a whole confused unity and uniformity, considering them to be one in the same. However, I came across a devotional this week that made it clear that uniformity is when everyone looks alike, talks alike, dresses alike and thinks alike.
Unity is something much different. We are dramatically different, but still come together for the greater good. Uniformity is when everyone agrees. Unity is when everyone agrees on the main thing.
Uniformity in some respects is not a good thing. We all tend to want to associate with, work with and talk with those people who look, think and act like we do. However, diversity of beliefs and opinions is a good thing. Great teams tend to have people of vastly different talents. Differences can be a great thing if a team is unified.
In the cattle industry, we have a common purpose, and we should be unified in that purpose. That purpose is to make the industry healthier and more profitable now and for future generations; to make it sustainable now and in the future; to protect it and guard it in today’s political environment, and; to grow beef demand.
Yet somewhere along the way we lost our unity of purpose and started to focus on uniformity of beliefs on every issue. We divided, we attacked and we treated as enemies anyone who did not share our views on every single issue. The results have been predictable.
Inevitably, when you align yourself against someone, you tend to malign them and integrity gets lost along the way. If you can’t refute their position, you attack their motives and then unity falls. It should not be difficult as an industry to be unified in purpose. Our differences should make us greater.
Pursuing uniformity means imposing your will and preferences upon others; it is all or none. Unity accepts differences but recognizes common goals. From a cattle industry perspective, it is a small minority who walked away and rejected unity of purpose in favor of uniformity.
However, from a broader political perspective, we are seeing the march to uniformity over unity in a significant way. It isn’t merely the radical left or radical right that rejects anyone and anything that does not agree with them completely. It is partisanship, and when electoral politics, activists and even institutions are focused on uniformity and unity only within their narrow focus, there no longer is a unity around the greater good.
Want to lose an election as a politician? Compromise and actually enact something that might move us forward. Want to lose your leadership position in your group? State that someone outside your group may be right or has a point. Want to lose your job in the media? Attempt to be fair and unbiased. There are a few brave souls out there who are still willing to recognize other views and believe in unity for the greater purpose, so hope is not lost.
It is time within our industry and the country as a whole to embrace our differences and still come together in unity around the greater purpose that we all share.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and Farm Progress.