Ask: If not you, then who?

“Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against one another.” (Zachariah 7:9-10)

Children are incred­ible at learning from the examples of parents and other adults. I still remember events of my childhood. It’s almost like the memories are hard-wired into my consciousness, with no delete option.

Memories, whether they are good or bad, stay with us and are ever present to influence us, even decades later, as we find ourselves in similar circumstances.

I still recall events of an earlier time when a car load of teens careened off the road at high speed, rolling many times before coming to rest in a wheat field in the dead of winter. All of the occupants were not wearing seatbelts, but all remained inside the vehicle and escaped with nothing more than scrapes and bruises.

Later, the grandmother of the young driver shared with our church how she had this tremendous urge to get out of bed, and kneeling to pray for the safety of these people. A subsequent check of the timing of the accident and her kneeling to pray for them was exactly the same time. Was it a mere coincidence?

If this grandmother had not acted and chose instead to turn over and go back to sleep, would the events have a different ending? I suppose one might conclude it depends on whether you believe in God and the power of prayer. I choose to believe her obedience to the urge to act had a definite impact on the lives of these people.

Fifteen years ago, faced with uncertainties within the agricultural industry, an opportunity to be a part of the solution came up. Rather than waiting for change to magically appear, I chose to participate to find solutions with like-minded people.

Looking back, I am in awe of the progress we made, from creating and passing workable crop insurance programs to creating a profitable biotechnology company that benefits farmers and their families. From that time forward, this motto drives the conversation as a question: If not you, then who?

Responding to injustices we see in our corner of the world can arise from this same question. If not you, who?

A good friend, now deceased, observed that we are not only responsible for the acts of commission that we have done, but also the acts of omission which we have chosen not to do.

Failure to act when appropriate to do so, to mediate a dispute, to encourage better behavior or when we see abuses occurring, we will be held accountable.

Looking ahead in the political landscape, opportunities abound for taking the initiative, to ensure that justice is done, to ensure that the widows and orphans of this age, including the foreigner, receive fair and equitable treatment.

According to latest studies, even before the GAO releases its findings on the impact of the latest legislative initiative to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate bill would cause most employer’s premiums to go up even higher, not down as claimed.

People with “pre-existing” conditions, though access remains, would face catastrophic health insurance premium increases, effectively cutting them off from affordable care. Can you say “death panels by proxy?”

The survival of Medicaid is questionable. Most people receiving it are already working minimum wage jobs that pay too little to escape the cycle of poverty.

Can you live on $9 an hour? Larry Burkett, a Christian financial counselor, now deceased, said, before you hire that next employee, ask yourself, “Can I live on what I will be paying him/her?” If not, Burkett says, raise the pay until you can, or do not hire an employee.

Immigration policy is still in a shambles. Tweets and executive orders are ineffective in addressing a problem that has been debated since before Ronald Reagan took office. It has become a political football between both Republican and Democratic parties, one that neither has expressed the desire nor will to fix.

Value of life issues are more than raising vocal opposition to abortion and family planning clinics. Can we really say we value life when we eliminate programs that foster care systems depend on?

We who call ourselves children of God often prefer to act as though we don’t know our father and what his will is. This is not a liberal versus conservative argument, but a personal one regarding our faith and belief. It is about obedience, and love, and mercy. It is about compassion and a response to engage in compassionate acts, in the same way God acted by saving us from eternal punishment and death.

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

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