Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Of course, not all city people are shallow and vacuous. In college I met professors who were raised generations from the soil yet could be legitimately described as wise. Achieving wisdom while being raised generations from the soil is a tremendously difficult, but many overcome such handicaps.
Modern life makes it hard to do.
City people are alienated from everything they consider unpleasant about life. They are alienated from blood. With each generation fewer and fewer of them ever dug a hole to bury a dead pet as a child. They are alienated from farm odors. They are alienated from their own food. I cannot tell you how often I have had kids out to the horse lot who are appalled that we would eat an egg laid by a chicken instead of getting a nice clean one from a grocery store. They do not want to eat potatoes grown in the dirt.
They will happily eat an apple with a spotless skin (produced by applications of pesticide and herbicide),but would never eat one that had a brown spot or insect damage.
Living close to the soil teaches one very important lesson--to discern what is real.
Life is real. And all that is needed to sustain life is real. Death is real. Wisdom cannot be gained without understanding the difference between reality and appearance any more than satisfaction can be gained without understanding the difference between being happy and being high.
Kids raised close to the soil look in a pasture of beautiful horses and see horses. Kids raised away from the soil look at that same pasture of beautiful horses and see horse manure. Kids raised close to the soil hate the fact that Ole Yeller must be shot--but they surely would have shot him. Kids raised away from the soil, even those who agree that Ole Yeller must be shot, say they could never have shot him.
The good news is that exposing kids to the reality of birth, life, death, planting, harvesting, and butchering can open the door to understanding what is real and what matters. In past generations city kids could become grounded by spending the summers on their grand parents' farms. Now only a handful of grandparents have farms.
That is why one of the most important parts of our educational programs is rooted in putting kids in contact with the soil and the animals that live on it.
Chris is growing up wonderfully over the past year. Chris waters the hogs. Chris asks if he can water the hogs. Chris does a good job of watering the hogs. Chris is becoming a man. The list is endless--Hailey and so many others (just mentioning Hailey by name because I miss her)--wonderful kids who are better than they would have been because they have been in the dirt in the horse lot.
Lydia thinks that for a lot of kids it is the most important thing we do.
I expect that she is right.
Posted by Steve Edwards