Ahoy thar, fellow denizens of LO. The title's fairly self explanatory, so I won't go into great detail.

Today's topic is farmers. I grew up in the rural north of England. For our European friends, Austrilasian brothers and trans-atlantic cousins, that means a village of 50 people, mainly farmers who litterally hadn't left the county, let alone the country and who the vast majority of people would consider to be extremely backwards and generally a laughing stock.

BUT. I have been to many places, throughout the world; cities, towns, villages, the odd hamlet, France... and I have made a discovery. Those backwards farmers are surprisingly well informed and moderate. I first realised this when, one noght, many years ago, I watched news night. The story of the time was a race riot in Holland, which hit pretty hard as I'm half Dutch. The citizen's issues were real and their indignation justified, but (as always) violence was not. That very night I went to the village pub (litterally the only thing to do) and listened into the odd conversation. One in particular caught my ear - it was an elderly gentleman, who had farmed the land for many a year and litterally hadn't left the county in his entire life. That's about 60 yers in an area of land 100 x 100 miles wide - at the most. He was telling Big Al about the fact that he'd met an Indian man in the nearest town - I was expecting the racist attitude we all expect from the rural northeners, but I was in for a major surprise. The chap in question had invited said Indian gentleman to stay with him and his wife,as the Indian man was after a true taste of the north of England. The Indian man did indeed stay with him and, from what I heard, had an amazing time working on the farm. I mean - picture the average westener working on an African reserve. And the farmer in question could not get over the "amazing" stories the Indian man had told him. From religion to recreational habits, the farmer was facinated, and not because of the "bizzare foreigner" factor. It was something new and he enjoyed the learning experience.

And form that I believeve we can all take a lesson - it's not a crime to be shocked, or surprised, or even scared by another persons life/beliefs/politics/attitiudes. And it's not a crime to disapprove (of course in the increasingly PC world it really is) but it is a crime to blindly judge. And that includes blindly judging our own. A lesson that farmer had clearly learned and I had not. Think on.

Much love, thechaplain