Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Getting back on track

I'm getting a little off the track here. My idea for this blog was to describe a way of looking at life which emphasized a personal relationship between man and the earth, to show that living a good life meant becoming connected to the land (not so much the planet as the ground under your feet), and to one's fellow human, and other, beings. This is the way the Indians live, as do many aboriginal cultures around the world, and it's where Western civilization seems to have gone a bit askew. The people in Western culture, and those of other so-called developed parts of the world, who understand this the best are the family farmers, and the people who live in and support the agricultural community. These people know best what the earth physically consists of, what it provides, and what its needs are. They know how to nuture and care for the earth, and therefore they know how to sustain it, to love it in the deepest sense.

Unfortunately our civilization has evolved with a highly developed sense of greed and acquisitiveness, and an addict's need for power and dominion over each other, and over the earth. Simply living in harmony with the earth has become inadequate; now a man must own a piece of it, along with the animals, minerals, and vegetation contained within it. Rather than simply celebrating his existence, he becomes protective of it, and instead of being able to share the earth's bounty with his brothers and sisters, now he must trade for it. In order to trade effectively he must be in a position of advantage; to increase his stock of tradeable goods, corners are cut, eventually leading to the degradation of the earth itself. This is how we have found ourselves with the problems of global warming, disappearing topsoils (large factory farms don't rotate crops, a practice which allows topsoil to replenish itself), depleted populations of fish and marine life, and massive pollution of the earth and its waters and skies. A whole new economy has developed around the remediation of these problems.

These are great concerns, and one can see how easy it is to gravitate toward discussion of them. However, this is not why I originally started this blog. I will, of course, continue to discuss important issues as they arise, but henceforth I want to get back to the blog's original purpose of examining the small, personal economy, and leave the bulk of the discussion of global problems to the experts in such matters. In the meantime, please look over some of my linked websites, especially the collection of Wendell Berry's writings. The life of this Kentucky farmer/naturalist/economist can serve as a great example for developing a relationship to the earth that is grounded and meaningful. He reminds us not to bother so much about the larger world, but to tend carefully the part that we live on. Rather than "think globally, act locally", Berry tells us to "think locally and act locally". To live in such a way is so much more fulfilling for all concerned -- the earth as well as ourselves.

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