?Home? is worth guarding

There really is no place like home. Such sentiments generally come from watching old movies, like ?The Wizard of Oz.? Whether we choose to believe in such sentimental notions is a personal decision.

However, a trip abroad might change one?s mind. One can only imagine seeing the world, one step at a time, especially in the way Ameri?can soldiers saw it firsthand?from the beaches of Normandy to the burned out cities of Germany during World War II. There really is no place like home.

Imagine entering a liberated Nazi concentration camp for the first time. Smell the stench of death, the by-products of bigotry and hatred.

Think about the events that led up to that moment. Think about the political process of a pre-war Germany that allowed Hitler to gain a political foothold and capture the people?s imaginations.

Think about the legal wrangling in their legislative processes that gave the new leader unimaginable strength and power over life and death. In retrospect, there really is no place like home.

Prior to 1872, my ancestors lived peaceably in a collection of villages in the Ukraine. Having lived there for more than three centuries, they could not imagine in their wildest dreams the horrific revolution that was about to descend upon the nation of Russia.

For them, home was about life, growing up, getting married and having a family in the same community of their fathers and mothers and generations before them.

It was about going to church, worshiping God, free from the duty of military service, operating a farm or business, taking care of the land and going about one?s daily tasks. It was about growing old and living among loving family and friends.

As political sentiment changed and the current czar of Russia could no longer protect their anonymity and freedom to live and worship as they pleased, whole communities of the Mennonite Brethren denomination decided to immigrate to the United States.

Those who chose to stay behind would later experience part of the holocaust that ushered in the reign of terror under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. Home in Russia was never again a refuge from harm and danger, it became a killing field and a place of despair and tragedy.

If one can travel to other countries where they have a different form of government than ours, that difference is pronounced. The things we take for granted in the United States is increasingly obvious.

Our adult children are witnesses to the differences. Though each traveled to different countries, they discovered similar truths. Though we in America may question our level of safety, especially in crime-ridden areas of a metropolitan city, we have a reasonable expectation that help is but a phone call away. A walk around the town or countryside is generally easy to do, without fear of harm.

Not so in any number of countries where governments are extremely corrupt and protection from the criminal element is non-existent, especially when the government aligns itself with the criminal element. One of our adult children recently said this gives a renewed sense of appreciation for our country.

I am intentionally vague with disclosing details of this, out of our need to protect family while they are traveling.

We are a nation, built upon a foundational document, the Constitution. With it is the Bill of Rights that guarantees individual liberties and freedoms. We have a government of, by and for the people that is unique among the vast majority of nations in the world.

We, the people, elect representatives and senators from among our citizens and have given them the right and the responsibility to represent us as they go about the task of governing this grand republic. This is the work they should do.

Fashioning workable legislation for the good of the country is called a grand compromise. That is how good laws come into existence. Without a compromise, we have an impasse, and with an impasse, we create chaos and disorder. With disorder, our nation cannot function well.

We are a nation where laws are made that protect even the smallest minority from all forms of abuse and discrimination. The Civil War that ultimately ended slavery was the tragic result of a divided nation, fighting over these rights and laws.

Judging from the rhetoric coming from our leading political candidate on the GOP side, Mr. Trump is feeding the worst fears and encouraging the electorate in engaging the physical battle, rather than sitting down and negotiating a good path forward that all can live with. Are we that willing to go to war with each other for this?

Though we are far from perfect, I challenge anyone to find a better place to live outside the domain of a democratically elected and representative form of govern?ment.

Though imperfect, I would rather face a Democrat or Republican allied supporter and debate the issues, accepting the outcome, rather than supporting activity that will weaken or destroy this fragile democracy.

My home may be dysfunctional at times, and I may be cranky once in a while, too. However, I prefer having a well-reasoned debate with anyone, without resorting to violence and criminal behavior, any day of the week. I still prefer that to the dangers that lurk outside our nation?s boundaries.

Paul Penner, former president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, farms in the Hillsboro area. He has been active statewide and nationally regarding agriculture policy.