The Values That Heal

| 7/27/2012 2:54:01 PM

Farming, like no other occupation, requires us to examine and apply our inner values as a daily part of our work. Perhaps this is why I feel so at home when working with the soil and the farm animals. In the choices I make, I either cast my fate with nature or with technology. By aligning with nature, I choose to live by the values that nurture me. 

This is very important to me. I have lived much of my life feeling disconnected from our culture and its values, and that’s a lonesome place to be. I see young people advised to follow lucrative careers rather than their hearts. I see many people increase their consumption because they are convinced by corporations that material goods will bring them happiness. I see these corporations and farmers treat the land and animals as commodities with hopes for bigger profits. And I see leaders in agriculture tell us that large-scale farming and chemicals are essential if we are to “feed the world.” 

As a young adult I learned that my “disconnect” problem didn’t rest fully on my shoulders. I had the benefit of spending two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa and found contentment in a culture where the welfare of the community was given priority. Once an individual had enough to eat, it was obvious that having “more” gained nothing. The community’s inherent value was to share what they received. I felt at home and connected there. 

This memory was recently refreshed when I worked with Native People in the southwest United States and in Alaska. Their ability to share extends not only to community, but to “seven generations to come.” Preserving resources for future generations is part of the consideration when hunting prey, gathering food or using water.  

What is lacking in our culture that allows people to consume without thinking of consequences to others or to the planet? How have we come to treat the land, other species and each other so poorly? I think about these things as I look at the large fields of GMO corn and soybeans that surround our farm. I believe I’m beginning to understand. 

Both religion and government give us rules to live by. Perhaps it’s because rules are “external” to whom we are as individuals that they don’t improve our actions as a society? I read Paul Woodruff’s book, Reverence, a few years ago and it certainly got me thinking about these things. Things like how to make some sense of what we’re seeing around us now. 

Mary Lou Shaw
8/5/2012 5:14:47 PM

Thank you. As you phrased it, "putting emotions into words" feels risky, and I so appreciate your support. Mary Lou

8/2/2012 12:36:34 AM

A wonderful article. Thank you.

Suzanne Reaves
7/30/2012 7:31:55 PM

That was incredibly beautiful... You're a great writer; thanks for putting emotions into words!

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