Farm Life and Our Desperate Need of Governing

One thing is for certain on a farm: No one can do it alone. If I had to do the farm chores every day by myself, the way I must do them when my wife is off on business, or to a family reunion, or in the hospital, I would soon collapse. There’s the sheep to be fed and moved in and out of the pasture, the dogs fed and exercised, the food to be put on the table, the laundry to do, the house to be cleaned. That’s not to mention the BIG jobs that come up like medicating the sheep, trimming hooves, stacking hay in the barn, cleaning out the muck, and the intensive watching and working when lambs are born.

I need my wife. I need the dogs. I need a host of part-time helpers who are able and willing. And so, I need to know how to work with others, and how to organize their labors so that we can keep this place going.

All that is for certain. So, how much more are we as a nation in desperate need of people who can govern.

In this presidential campaign year our attention is drawn so very often to the peripheral. The bulk of coverage on TV, the papers, and the Internet, is about debate performances and the ups and downs of the campaigns. But we should be thinking of whether any candidate can actually govern. It is easy to put out talking points and plans. It is easy to ridicule and bully and throw dirt and variously criticize. But it takes real character and skill to govern.

To govern a person has to make it plain to everyone that they do not have all the answers, and that doesn’t go well in debates these days. But, as a farmer, I am looking for someone smart and courageous enough to say just that. And I am looking for someone who shows that character, and has demonstrated that skill, to be focused on real needs, and to be honest with real mistakes—someone who respects the ideas of others, learns from them, and compromises with them in order to move society toward genuine solutions to meet those needs. I’m looking for someone who works harder to make new allies than they do to trample enemies.

Both the critics and supporters of President Donald J. Trump should be able to recognize that the man is singularly unable to govern. Even now he is doubling down on his policies of insulting all critics, ridding his administration of all who see things from perspectives other than his own, and undermining the public’s respect for government itself.  He is determined to alienate all the leaders of the world who value international cooperation and compromise, while he aligns himself, and even does the bidding, of “strong-man” leaders who cannot govern, but only dictate.

But it is time now for those who criticize and oppose Trump to show that they recognize the fundamental problem. It is now time for citizens to watch and see which of Donald Trump’s opponents have the heart and the hands for governing, for cooperation, for honest and practical problem solving.

Have any of the candidates done any farming? Do they truly know how to govern?

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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