Letters (September 27, 2017)

“Trust me, it’s (not) gonna happen.”

“I will get back to you.”

“The check is in the mail.”

If I were a betting person, I would wager that every adult has heard one of those promises—or a version of it—at least once in their lifetime, only to discover it was a lie.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is filled with sayings about truth telling and honesty. In Proverbs 6:16-19, the author describes seven things the Lord hates, and all have one connection: deception built upon lies.

Such lies or deceptions are commonplace, and not taken seriously today, and often used as a punch line for comedic effect.

Though one may argue any one of these may have been unintentional, due to changing circumstances, a prevailing attitude today is it is not that important to make good on a promise, or minimizing an attempt to do so.

Plus, it is said, these “declarations” are nothing more than mindless chatter and should never be taken at face value.

In earlier days, children were taught that honesty was the best policy. We grew up listening to fables exhorting us to never lie, and if we did, we would be found out, and pay the consequences of our behavior.

Consider these unique promises that are a bit more directed through special circumstances;

• “This (land or house, etc.) is your inheritance when we are gone, and rest assured, it will never be sold. Farm it, (manage it, live in it) as long as you like.”

• “I’m never moving away from here. You can depend on that.”

• “I can never imagine a world without being with you. I want to be with you forever. I love you that much!”

• “We at the EPA are not interested in regulating puddles and small ditches on your farms. We have no intention of doing that.”

All of the above comments reflect real-life experiences, three of which relate with people I know, while all have some relevance in my own compilation of experiences. Plus, as the audience increases in size, I am finding these stories are not at all unique to me or the small group of people I know.

The difficulty in life comes from a gut-wrenching wake-up call to reality, when dreams fail us and we realize this is not a dream. Rather than being able to rely on the one thing that provides stability and assurance, we must adapt and change as we recover, and sometimes this must occur in radical ways.

Imagine having to move from a home not knowing where the next home will be. Imagine having to sell machinery when land is no longer available. Imagine becoming the sole provider and care giver for the family.

How do you adapt when your world is no longer whole? How can one transition from living without the person, who vowed before God and man to love, honor and cherish until death, and now declares the end of a relationship? It is not easy to transition from one way to the other.

Regarding the last “promise,” my direct involvement while lobbying on behalf of farmers revealed a level of dishonesty that I had not seen prior to that meeting.

As we conducted our due diligence, we learned the legal language in the regulations regarding the Waters of the U.S., (WOTUS) did in fact give the government agency authority to do exactly what it said they would never do.

As time goes on, wisdom emerges through experiences like this, and require adapting to changing circumstances. Learning can be a painful process, as discovery of the truth behind each story emerges.

The key take-away is truth is always present in our lives. It is up to us to determine whether we choose to live according to its potential for good.

Paul Penner farms in the Hillsboro area. He has been active statewide and nationally regarding agriculture policy.