Farms,  Life,  Values

Money and Possessions don’t feed you

I started the year with a goal of reading 1 new book every week. Ha! It’s taken me two months to get through The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. Not that it’s really a difficult book, I’ve just been busy. It is long, but not difficult. It is enjoyable, for the most part (through part of it, I was just mad at the main character…sorry if that spoils things for you). 😉  Anyways, I took some great quotes away from the book that reminded me of how things are today, and the choices that we all make. I want to share these thoughts with you.

Wang Lung is the main character, and he is a farmer. At one point in the story, there is a famine in the land. He and his wife sell most of their belongings to travel to another town where there is food and employment. There is a wall around the home of a rich family in this town, and the poor start to blame all of their problems on the rich people. There’s a young idealist who stands in front of the crowd, claiming that they are being oppressed by the rich. Wang Lung is a simple farmer. To him, the biggest problem in his life is that it didn’t rain this year and his crops didn’t grow. He stirs up the courage to ask:

“Sir, is there any way whereby the rich who oppress us can make it rain so that I can work on the land?”

The young leader calls him a fool, mocks his hairstyle (because it’s obviously the hairstyle of a farmer), and says:

“No one can make it rain when it will not, but what has this to do with us? If the rich would share with us what they have, rain or not would matter none, because we would all have money and food.”

Want Lung had a different idea. He didn’t want people to simply give him their money and food. This would make him dependent on those people, and Wang Lung wanted to work for his money and food. The book says,

“Money and food are eaten and gone, and if there is not sun and rain in proportion, there is again hunger.”

The men who complained “talked,..always and forever of money…of what they would do if they had the money which the man over the wall had in his coffers.” And what would they do, if they had the money that the rich people had? They would:

  • eat fancy foods
  • sleep
  • gamble
  • go here and there
  • buy prostitutes
  • never work again
Isn’t this so much like today? Especially in America, where so many people have more money than they know what to do with. They:
  • go out to eat often, instead of having nutritious, home-cooked meals around the family table
  • sleep…literally and figuratively. So many people are “asleep” to the issues that are going on today. They’re just vegging. Watching TV. Zoning. Not there.
  • gamble…they play the lottery or literally go to casinos…or spend their money on lots of stupid (ahem!) iphone apps where they don’t win anything of true value.
  • vacation…as if going to Disneyland 50 times in your life or seeing the Grand Canyon is going to make them a better person…
  • buy prostitutes and prostitue themselves…In the form of internet pornography, movies (oh my, the movies that are out these days! People ought to be ashamed of themselves!), and immodest clothing. (Dear young girls–back in my day, the dresses you’re wearing would’ve been called lingerie!)
  • never work again….so many people really buy into this “the rich oppress us” concept and they simply decide to be government leaches, taking whatever they can get, expecting more, and not working.
Am I saying:
Dining out is bad? No.
Sleeping is bad? No. Vegging out, watching TV every once in a while is bad? No.
Gambling is bad? Well…. 😉
Vacations are bad? No.
Prostitution is bad? Yes. Pornography is bad? Yes.
Not working is bad? Yes. Government programs are bad? Inherently, no. I think they had good intentions. Are they abused? Absolutely.
There’s a disconnect between the people and the land.
  • This is the typical American family:
  • The Mom and the Dad both work, long hours. One or both of the parents might toil at a job that really, in the scheme of life and liberty and all things that matter, means nothing.
  • The kids go to daycare soon after birth.
  • The kids go to public school.
  • The parents go to the grocery store to buy the easiest food possible.
  • Dinner is cooked in the microwave or maybe in the skillet, but it’s easy (which means, processed).
  • The parents hate their job, but they do it anyways, so that they can have a nice house–that they’re barely home to see.
  • When they are home, the parents are watching TV.
  • The kids are in sports, because the parents think that builds character–or at least gives their kid a chance at the NBA.
  • The schedule is busy, busy, busy. Eat, run out the door, crash.
  • The parents and the kids hardly know each other.
  • The parents feel guilty, so they buy their kids iPhones when they’re really too young for that responsibility.
  • The kids spend every bit of free time playing Angry Birds.
  • The kids make choices that shock their parents, and the Mom and Dad shake their heads–“what? But I thought we taught our kids values?” Hello Mom and Dad, you barely know your kids, how were they supposed to “catch” your value system?
  • The kids step onto a farm maybe 5 times in their whole childhood, during their school field trips to the pumpkin patch. As far as they know, potatoes come from McDonalds and there are only about 4 types of lettuce in existence in the world.
  • The parents have this gnawing feeling in the back of their mind that if the power went out (and their IT job suddenly meant nothing) and people had to fend for themselves, they wouldn’t have a clue how to survive…They might be able to plant tomatoes from starts but other than that–milk a cow? Butcher a hog? Yeah right. They’re entirely dependent on the system. If that system fails–if there were no semi-trucks and grocery stories, they would die.
  • The kids grow up, get married (or not) and repeat the system.
  • Each generation gets more and more detached from the one before them. I think we’re truly suffering with several generations of people with varying degrees attachment disorders. They don’t know how to attach to their kids, so they turn on the TV. Their kids don’t know how to attach to them (it was never modeled for them), so they move away as adults.
They’re not happy. They’re depressed. They feel like there’s something missing. There is. They are willing to work (at a posh job in an office) but they refuse to work for their food. They’ve never even met the people who do work for their food. The climax of their life? They’ll buy a sports car, and travel. That’s the life. Is it? It’s fun. But there’s still something missing from that life, isn’t there?
In the good ol’ days:
  • Mom and Dad were home on the farm.
  • Everyone learned the value of hard work, from infancy.
  • Meals were eaten around the family table. It was nutritious. It was grown in the backyard.
  • Mom and Dad felt like their work mattered. It kept the family alive.
  • They didn’t care about a nice home, just a cozy home.
  • Sports were played in the back field–with the family.
  • The schedule was relaxed.
  • The kids worked along side their Mom and Dad and the parents were able to connect with their kids and teach them values.
  • Kids still made poor choices. It didn’t take months for Mom & Dad to figure that out though–they were right there. A Mom who knows her kids can tell when something is wrong.
  • The kids spent all of their free time climbing trees and clearing blackberry trails.
  • The kids were intimately involved with the farm. They knew how to run it. They knew how to survive.
  • The kids knew their parents. They knew how hard their parents worked to keep them alive and nourished–they saw it. The kids were less likely to move away to other states or far off lands.
It’s all about the land, the “Good Earth.” Really…When we move away from valuing the life-giving earth that God gave us stewardship over, we suffer. When we think that we can avoid the curse that God gave to Adam, and that we can sit on our bum and watch TV and never, ever toil on the land, we’re fooling ourselves. We will never be satisfied with that kind of life.  
Is it possible to have a “homesteading” way of life in a neighborhood? I think so. I think it’s more about the value system than the location. Do you value your family, your meals, your food, and hard work? Do you get dirty and touch the good earth that God created for us? You can tell what you value by what you add to your schedule and by what you spend your money on. Wherever your time and money is–that is what you value.
So, let me ask again:
If you had to choose between a sports car and a farm, what would you choose?


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