By Wade Christensen
I spent a good portion of my life on a farm and ranch working full time. Even today, my family and I are continuing what our ancestors started four generations ago. Some may wonder what relevance a farm and agribusiness background has with a person who lives and works in the city running his own business while attempting to keep up with current events around the state and nation.
When I was young, we admired people for being honest, trustworthy, hardworking, optimistic and generous. These were character traits of individuals we lived with, worked with and went to church with. They weren’t given any special recognition or mentioned in the news. They were just decent citizens who worked hard and lived quietly. In today’s world, we have become so calloused and don’t think twice about news reports of a corporate leader cheating his stockholders or a politician being accused of corruption or lying. What has happened to our sense of morality? Do we not expect good from people anymore?
Rather than being complacent, we need to rally behind what we, as a nation, stand for: kindness, respect, courage, self-reliance. These coincide with farming values such as hard work, love, cultivation, growth, nourishment and group efforts. These alone will take care of many of our current problems. America’s system of government is undeniably the best in the world. While being admired, many U.S. and state politicians have become bound by party politics and/or are indebted to special-interest groups. Because of these party or financial conflicts, these individuals have forgotten who elected them and our founding principles.
Divisiveness should be the exception; the irony that being politically correct at all times leads to more disagreement cannot escape us. While we have many good elected officials, we need more men and women with the fortitude to stand up to campaign contributors and cross party lines, at all levels. We need independent and creative thinkers who aren’t afraid to assert their values and principles above party politics. Many say what we want to hear in campaign promises, but fail to act when the responsibility is bestowed upon them. We need officials who don’t have ethics of convenience but instead are virtuous and set high examples for adults and the generations to follow.
Families, children and marriages also aren’t immune from the many temptations of the modern world. Families are too busy to eat together and consequently, they miss out on the opportunity to communicate and share family values. Technology has advanced to such an extent that children, parents and spouses no longer verbally communicate, but instead text or email each other leading to unauthentic relationships with children and weakened bonds between spouses.
We should encourage those with strong values and work ethics to enter office — individuals who are authentic, humble, know the value of a full day’s work and the importance of accomplishing goals, even if that involves compromise and negotiation, not just winning. Each of us wants to believe in something.
Farming principles are very related in politics and city life. If we can regain and maintain these simple family values, the next generation of leaders will take our state and nation to an entirely new level.