Credit Where It's Due

Published online: Nov 03, 2021 Below the Surface Tyrell Marchant, editor
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This column appears in the November 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Boy, where did the year go? Once again, we find ourselves with the holidays bearing down on us. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it officially kicks off in just a couple weeks with a not-gluttonous-because-it’s-Thanksgiving-so-it’s-okay plateful of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, candied yams, pumpkin pie and, of course, mashed potatoes. But before Grandma allows you to dig in, you’ll have to wait as everyone is forced to tell everyone else something they’re thankful for.

This year, I wouldn’t judge you if you had a difficult time coming up with a sincere, worthy, genuinely uplifting thought to share at the Thanksgiving table. Because the last couple years, it feels like we’ve been absolutely besieged by a culture hell-bent on tearing itself apart. It almost seems that if you’re not making an effort to prove all your problems—past, present and future—are the fault of someone in some position of power, you’re behind the times.

Biden, Harris, Trump, Fauci, Cruz, AOC, Pelosi, McConnell. Anderson Cooper, Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, Ben Shapiro. They’re everywhere. Inescapable. Ubiquitous. Inevitable. I’m not here to pass judgment on any of those folks’ merit as geniuses or morons, as benevolent public servants or would-be despots. Nor am I denying that what goes on in D.C. and in statehouses across the country has an impact on people’s lives and livelihoods—particularly in agriculture, where changes in legislation and regulation have the potential to change the very way you conduct business and plan for your family’s future. And I’m certainly not opposing being involved in influencing what goes on in our halls of government; that is a sacred privilege and duty as American citizens.

I’d say on most days, 30-year-old recordings from John Cougar and George Strait are the most relevant things on the radio.

But if you were to ask me, I’d say our individual and collective attention should be diverted away from people and institutions who simply aren’t going to be there when you need them most. I’d say we should quit hanging all our hopes and pinning all our troubles on politicians and pseudo-experts and talking heads. I’d say we would be well-served to quit giving them so dadgum much credit for the way our lives turn out, and shift that credit to where it’s due.

I’d say it’s probably healthier to focus on the advice of Matt, the crop consultant whose only bad prescription in 15 years was to put a hundred bucks on the Packers to win the Super Bowl last year. And to heed the levelheaded wisdom of Sid, who was helping your folks run the place when you were scrambling up the steps of the tractor wearing nothing but a Cookie Monster diaper and a smile. And to trust the judgment of Sarah, who grew up changing water on her parents’ farm just down the road and has become the best dang ag loan officer in the county.

If you were to ask me, I’d say your dad’s presence at every ugly ballgame and mediocre piano recital and brutally early morning in the county fair livestock barns have made a bigger impact than any executive order could ever hope to. I’d say what your mom has to say about treating your wife right and letting her know she’s appreciated is more powerful than any snippet on YouTube. I’d say the hour you spend laughing, making big plans and sharing a burger and fries in a corner booth with the girl of your dreams (even after all these years) will do more to cement your legacy than any change in the tax code might.

I’d say the hall in your house—littered with muddy boots, someone’s tattered ball cap and about a dozen Hot Wheels—is every bit as hallowed as those trod by Congress. I’d say you’ll dig up as much truth swapping jokes at the co-op for five minutes as any billion-dollar commission or hard-hitting exposé in the Times. I’d say on most days, 30-year-old recordings from John Cougar and George Strait are the most relevant things on the radio. I’d say the most important lessons are learned grinding the gears of a two-tone ’93 F-250.

I’d say that if a guy’s willing to give credit where credit it truly due, he’ll realize that, yeah, he really does have a lot to be thankful for.

I don’t know; maybe I’m wrong. But, for what it’s worth, that’s what I’d say.