Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Found Patriotism

I have never in my adult life considered myself to be a patriot.  In my public-school trained mind patriotism has always meant waving flags, pledging allegiances, supporting a government regardless of what they do and so forth.  This is not me.  I discovered something new, though, just the other night while my husband read the first essay from Wendell Berry's book "Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community".  These attributes that I have always seen as patriotism are actually nothing more than nationalism.  I also discovered that I am truly patriotic to our country.

The country, you see, has little to do with flags, allegiances, and governments and everything to do with the land, the people, and the communities they form. 
Sun setting in the woods
Sun rising on the lake
Working the land at home
A community garden in East New York, Brooklyn

To clarify what I allude to in the difference between a nation and a country I give to you an excerpt from Berry's essay "Conservation and Local Economy":

In our relations to the land, we are ruled by a number of terms and limits set not by anyone’s
preference but by nature and by human nature:

 I.  Land that is used will be ruined unless it is properly cared for.

 II.  Land cannot be properly cared for by people who do not know it intimately, who do not know
how to care for it, who are not strongly motivated to care for it, and who cannot afford to care for it.

III.  People cannot be adequately motivated to care for land by general principles or by incentives that are merely economic—that is, they won’t care for it merely because they think they should or merely because somebody pays them.

IV.  People are motivated to care for land to the extent that their interest in it is direct,
dependable, and permanent.

V.  They will be motivated to care for the land if they can reasonably expect to live on it as long as they live. They will be more strongly motivated if they can reasonably expect that their children and grandchildren will live on it as long as they live. In other words, there must be a mutuality of belonging: they must feel that the land belongs to them, that they belong to it, and that this belonging is a settled and unthreatened fact.

VI.  But such belonging must be appropriately limited. This is the indispensable qualification of
the idea of land ownership.  It is well understood that ownership is an incentive to care. But there is a limit to how much land can be owned before an owner is unable to take proper care of it. The need for attention increases with the intensity of use. But the quality of attention decreases as acreage increase.

VII.  A nation will destroy its land and therefore itself if it does not foster in every possible way the sort of thrifty, prosperous, permanent rural households and communities that have the desire, the skills, and the means to care properly for the land they are using.

To this country I am and will remain a patriot.


mamallamasmama said...

Well said. Lots of food for thought. Is there any way I can put your blog on FB. Just wondering.

Barb Schanel said...

Just click the appropriate box at the bottom of the post. Thanks!