It seems in today’s world that issues and challenges appear to have only one solution – a black and white scenario without any compromise or any look at middle ground.

Many people in our society refuse to accept dialogue or information from other perspectives and, at times, assume anything that does not agree with their position is a lie. We tend to listen only to information which supports our position or reinforces our current belief or the belief of a leader, without any facts or logic to support that information.

We also tend to assume a paradigm cannot shift and new knowledge or new conditions are only meant to distract us from a long-held belief. Most are unwilling to research and verify whether information is factual or simply an opinion.

As president of NDFU, I am asked many times to make statements on behalf of the organization. Usually, we have clear policy and it is easy to reiterate the position our members have set forth through our grassroots policy development. That development involves strong debate, research and life experiences of members, which determine our course of action each year. As you can imagine, there are times when our policy is not clearly defined on issues that may be new or non-related to our organization. We have a process for managing issues outside of our policy; everything from making a judgment call, asking our state board or Board of Governors for guidance or simply taking no position.

New concepts, ideas and challenges face our country and the world. It is time we all become better informed and seek information, not just information that reinforces our current belief. Do research and ask questions of people you trust. An open mind can allow for middle ground solutions that usually result in better outcomes, keeping people united in common goals.

World solutions are not black and white. Endless ideas and opinions exist. How we operate in the U.S. may work well for us but not for others. Where we live in the U.S. matters, too. Are we rural or urban? What is our cultural background? Factors that make us unique may lead us to assume our style of life, rules and laws are more correct than others. This may or may not be true, but we can always learn from each other.

I challenge all of us to step beyond the idea that there is only one solution to every question. Remember, the world is not black and white. Life is not black and white. It is our responsibility to determine the logic of specific ideas and solutions. We need to listen to all the dialogue and form our own thoughts that aren’t based on talking points or headlines. We need to participate in our democracy as more informed citizens.

I firmly believe we will always need each other and compromise leads to greater success.

— NDFU President Mark Watne