My office is three blocks from the street that burned in Minneapolis this month. As I drive in to work, there are the remains of an auto parts store and a Family Dollar, burned to the ground. There are blocks of boarded-up store fronts with spray-painted messages that read “people live here,” along with other graffiti and messages of support. The bank still stands but it has a safety fence around it, a “STAY OUT – DANGER” sign posted every so often, and when you go around the back, you see that the bricks are not encasing a building, just a burned-out shell. Almost every other business between my office and Lake Street is boarded up, closed … for how long—no one knows.
I can’t even get to ground zero; the streets are closed. But I am safe. Luckily, so is my office. Those folks behind boards and looking out at the burned-out wreckage of their businesses and livelihoods, not so much. They are collateral damage, with no restitution and no way for this to be made right. Insurance doesn’t cover these kinds of losses (unless you have a special policy, and who has one of those in Minnesota?).
But these are not the only “collateral damage” of the past months. People have been shut in, with only themselves for company. Many of us are in solitary confinement, unable to see loved ones, comfort the afflicted, or mourn those who have passed.
Of course, I pause to think mostly of the farmers who have no place to take their animals, the grain markets that are headed south, the floods, and the freezing temperatures. This is a challenging time to live through, if you can. And yet, farmers do, working hard, cutting costs, looking forward to better times. A joke and a smile hiding worry and pain.
Someone once shared a thought that has stuck with me over the years—“Be kind to everyone you meet, you don’t know what they are living through.” (Ian MacLaren).
Today, nearly everyone you meet is living through something. Let’s all be kind. It’s the least and the most we can do.
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Today’s leading farmers are increasing their use of social media, and companies that pay attention and do it right have a market-leading opportunity.
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