Thursday, November 08, 2012

Personal Secession

This morning, I read the following poem by Wendell Barry, and it inspired this blog post:

The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union — by Wendell BerryFrom the union of power and money,
from the union of power and secrecy,
from the union of government and science,
from the union of government and art,
from the union of science and money,
from the union of ambition and ignorance,
from the union of genius and war,
from the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
the Mad Farmer walks quietly away.
There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home,
his own nation small enough to walk across.
He goes shadowy into the local woods,
and brightly into the local meadows and croplands.
He goes to the care of neighbors,
he goes into the care of neighbors.
He goes to the potluck supper, a dish from each house
for the hunger of every house.
He goes into the quiet of early mornings
of days when he is not going anywhere.
Calling his neighbours together into the sanctity of their lives
separate and together
in the one life of their commonwealth and home,
in their own nation small enough for a story
or song to travel across in an hour, he cries:
Come all ye conservatives and liberals
who want to conserve the good things and be free,
come away from the merchants of big answers,
whose hands are metalled with power;
from the union of anywhere and everywhere
by the purchase of everything from everybody at the lowest price
and the sale of anything to anybody at the highest price;
from the union of work and debt, work and despair;
from the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed.
From the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation,
secede into care for one another and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth.
Come into the life of the body, the one body
granted to you in all the history of time.
Come into the body’s economy, its daily work,
and its replenishment at mealtimes and at night.
Come into the body’s thanksgiving, when it knows
and acknowledges itself a living soul.
Come into the dance of the community, joined
in a circle, hand in hand, the dance of the eternal
love of women and men for one another
and of neighbors and friends for one another.
Always disappearing, always returning,
calling his neighbors to return, to think again
of the care of flocks and herds, of gardens
and fields, of woodlots and forests and the uncut groves,
calling them separately and together, calling and calling,
he goes forever toward the long restful evening
and the croak of the night heron over the river at dark.
We are not powerless in the face of a system that fails to meet our needs.  We are not  incapable of effecting change on our own, or with just our neighbors.  All you have to do is choose not to participate in corrupt systems.  Choose not to participate in government actions that violate your principles.  Choose not to be controlled by the monetary-market paradigm.  Use your labor to create or acquire goods that you need to survive and thrive, rather than trading your labor for money in order to purchase things you want.  Nothing you need can be kept from you by government or lack of money.  You can create or acquire it just by thinking and trying.

Become the Mad Farmer.

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