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Dear Friends,

Probably like me you will be reading the Bible when you come across a passage which really speaks to you, as it was with me, when dipping into Leviticus.

“You harvest your crops on your land. But do not harvest all the way to the corners of your fields. If grain falls onto the ground, don’t gather it up. Don’t pick all the grapes in your vineyards. And don’t pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. You must leave those things for poor people. You must also leave them for people travelling through your country.” Leviticus 19 9 – 10.

I read it literally at first thinking of leaving something for those less advantaged and not taking it all. But I also reflected upon it as a metaphor for not squeezing every last drop out of a situation rather than “cutting some slack.”

Here we are more than 2000 years after this was written and the words are just as wise and certainly just as pertinent. The idea of not taking everything you can, not squeezing the very last drop out of something is not everyone’s business philosophy. When we think of those world leaders or business people who want to get the best deal they can for themselves regardless of the impact on others, it doesn’t seem a very Christian or even sensible way of going about things to me.

President Trump talks about “America First” and I’m sure that as president he is duty bound to put the American people first. But does that mean “America First” at all costs regardless of the consequences to others? As the wealthiest country in the world do you need to squeeze every last drop out of a deal?

In schools at the moment there is relentless pressure on teachers to squeeze every last drop of possible progress out of children. This at first sounds reasonable, we all want our children to achieve the best they can. But this relentless drive, pushing as hard as we possibly can results in a narrowing of the curriculum with teachers concentrating on the tested subjects in order to reach demanding / unrealistic targets. It is also resulting in large numbers of teachers leaving the profession partly due to pressure, work life balance or frustration in being unable to deliver a broad curriculum as well as high levels of stress amongst pupils. Point being, squeezing every last drop can be counterproductive

What happens if the farmer continues to take out of the ground without putting any nutrients back in? What happens to the worker who is treated merely as a means of making a profit?

In a world that promotes, standards, targets or cutting a deal it can seem as though compassion, empathy and a more holistic view of what standards actually means gets pushed aside. So, I suggest that rather than looking at Leviticus as some old outdated text we keep in our mind that taking everything, squeezing out the last drop isn’t quite as clever as people might think it is.