A centennial celebration

The Boll Weevil Monument turned 100 today.

The air was already cold by the time the centennial celebration started at 5:30 p.m., but I sat in a little chair in downtown Enterprise, Alabama, in the middle of Main Street, and stared at the statue.

People spoke and sang about the boll weevil, which dethroned king cotton five score and four years ago and forced farmers in the area to find a new cash crop.

They turned to peanuts, which turned out to be wise.

A few years later they had somebody make a monument to the pest which, in a roundabout way, turned them a profit and pointed them toward progress.

It also pushed them to open their minds to George Washington Carver’s research on crop diversification and ways to nourish soil by planting other crops instead of just cotton.

It was at this point my mind moved away from agriculture and drifted more toward diversity.

I’ve heard a lot about diversity from a lot of people this year. Some think there’s not enough, and some think there’s too much.

Diversity is a good thing. Differences are good things.

Just like soil is nourished when different crops are planted, we are nourished when we listen to and learn from other people. We can embrace diversity without the compromise of our own values and beliefs.

We can be enriched by other people’s ideas and opinions.

The older I get the more I’ve noticed opinions can lead to outrage too fast.

I think it’s because we’ve forgotten how to disagree with respect.

Maybe we’ve forgotten just because people disagree doesn’t mean they hate one another.

Maybe disagreement has been assumed to be hate too much. Maybe, on the other hand, hate has been disguised as disagreement too much.

Maybe it’s time we realize we’re no better or worse than anybody who looks at the world in a different way.

Maybe we need a crash course in kindness.

Maybe we need to take a chance on an idea, like those farmers did 100 years ago, and finally try to live like we love one another.

I think that’d be something to celebrate.

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