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Reverse moral decay with respectReverse moral decay with respect

Look at yourself first to see if you’re living as you ought to live.

Kevin Schulz

April 28, 2023

3 Min Read
INTROSPECTIVE LOOK: The problems of America appear to be magnified, but a lot of it starts from the person you see in the mirror. GOCMEN/Getty Images

I’m not sure when, where or why this happened, but somewhere along the line, America has changed.

The old U.S. of A. is still the best country on this planet, but somewhere along the way, we have lost our way. Just like the sheep that has wandered from its flock.

I may be dating myself, and I may come across as a curmudgeon, but I have witnessed the deterioration of the moral compass of our country.

With the new granddaughter I mentioned in my last column, I am fearful of the world that she will inherit.

A rural Minnesota upbringing taught me hard work, dependency on the mercy of the Good Lord and a respect for others — especially elders and those in positions of authority.

We learned how a severe thunderstorm could negate the hard work that was put into planting and tending a crop. My dad always said he could stomach the storm that wiped out a year’s crop, “because that was the will of the Lord.”

In school we learned that regardless how my brother and I would complain about the treatment from a teacher or a school administrator, if we acted up, that our parents would side with the authority figure. We may not have liked that stance, and our parents later learned realities after we graduated, but that respect for authority stuck with me.

That respect for authority served me well in my few run-ins with the law. Though my ’78 Chevy Malibu was far from a street rod, I did have a heavy foot at times. At times that heavy foot got me in trouble.

Though I didn’t like it, I took my punishment — that I deserved — paid the fine and moved on. Not once did I think about gunning it and trying to outrun the law, because you may recall the end result in the 1965 hit by The Bobby Fuller Four “I Fought the Law.” (For those of you too young to recall that song, Google it.)

When and where the spiral of moral decay began, I don’t know. It’s been a slow, gradual decline in the lack of respect that we show. The lack of respect is evident in everyday life, and we all have been a victim of it somewhere, sometime.

I believe farmers, educators and law officers are three of the most noble professions, but also are under constant attack.

Respect noble professions

Sadly, parts of society disrespect the work that farmers do every single day, because they feel they know better how producers should be doing their jobs.

The agrarian disconnect that exists leads far too many in society to think we do not need farmers, that people can go to grocery stores to get their food. They also think our food can and should be produced in a lab.

Our educators are also struggling to do their jobs, which is to educate the next generations to lead us into the future. Sadly, they can no longer simply teach, they are asked to do more with less: less assistance in the classrooms, less respect from students and less support from the parents.

Respect for law enforcement officials has also diminished over the years, and that comes from all over society.

Yes, there are bad farmers, bad teachers and bad police officers, but those bad apples do not spoil the whole bunch, and the professions as a whole still deserve our respect.

I am surrounded by all three professions. I was raised in and now write about agriculture. My wife, two daughters and one son-in-law are teachers. My other son-in-law is a deputy sheriff.

I have gained a greater appreciation for what they all do. I also see why we are seeing a great exodus from the teaching and law enforcement professions.

It all comes down to respect. Respect for our teachers, respect for farmers, respect for law enforcement officials. Or, sadly, lack thereof.

Respect others and respect yourself. That’s where it all starts.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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