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ISSUE: Memorable message
OUR VIEW: Remember that values have roots
Americans admire the farmer. You might even call it love.
Fighting the elements to produce the world’s richest yield only to be paid pennies compared to the retail dollar value of his goods, the American farmer is part scientist, part conservationist, part businessman and all laborer.
While the image is admired, it’s also often taken for granted.
In a land of plenty built by American farm ingenuity, the admirable traits and values learned from a tractor seat are not commonly revered. The days before dawn, the 24/7 on call, the stifling heat, bone-chilling cold, dependence on nature and financial stresses cause most of us to recommend more comfortable careers when advising the next generation.
Farmers know no holidays. Cows need to be milked on Labor Day. Chickens need to be fed on the Fourth of July. Sometimes, tobacco needs to be stripped on Thanksgiving.
Even people who enjoy 40-hour lives, annual vacations and weekends off admire farmers for their struggles and sacrifices. Many equally admired the Super Bowl tribute presented by Dodge Ram.
The NFL’s championship contest has evolved into a commercial championship of its own where major national companies spend millions to produce and schedule messages intended to be memorable. Whether it’s lip-locking beauty and the geek, a Minnesotan changing attitudes by using a Jamaican accent or a sentimental reunion of a man and his Clydesdale, the creative forces are designed to motivate or at least get us talking.
The power of advertising is dramatic. Here at the newspaper that’s indisputable. The extraordinary prose of a skilled journalist is equally impactful. Combining the two with evocative still photography was unquestionably two minutes worthy of note.
The late Paul Harvey first presented his “So God Made a Farmer” address 35 years ago at a national FFA convention. Upon his death, The New York Times obituary described the conservative broadcaster as someone who “championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people.”
All that comes through in this message, which had to be trimmed into the two-minute TV spot that’s also become an internet must-see.
Here’s part of what Harvey describes as God’s undocumented eighth day of Creation when he decided Earth was in a need of a caretaker.
“It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’”
So God made a farmer.
It’s all inspiring, challenging and perhaps even a little embarrassing for someone with a more comfortable job yet lost in a personal stack of daily complaints.
Make no mistake, the commercial is intended to evoke warm feelings about a particular brand of pickups. But it also reminds us about the best of ourselves as a people and how those exceptional characteristics reside in proximity to God, nature, hard work and values.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.