“One eternal farming seduction involves the distinction between labor-intensive and labor saving processes. Where we suspect we are being offered a false choice, it might be better at the outset to look into the nature of the work. If the job is meaningful and carries intrinsic rewards, then there may be little need to rescue the worker from it. And if it strikes the worker as meaningless, repetitious drudgery, no external incentives may be enough to counteract the detriment to the worker’s self-worth.” -Paul Hunter
I think it is wise to look at the American work ethic. It is something of a beast…we Americans can be said to have an addiction, just like an addiction to alcohol, drugs, and pills. I am in awe for the amount Americans who are willing to work, and at low pay to say the least. We are driven to work: it is our hope, our liberation, and our prison. The utopian work environment is a constant quest: a place where one can be free from bureaucracy, a place where one is ideally efficient. A place where one can truly be oneself. A place one can call home. We live our lives with the intention of building that home whether we are aware or not. Almost speaking Freudian language is MY intention….I feel like I am constantly searching for that return Home. I want love, money, land, good food, travel time…I want it all!
Now, this perspective is not very traditional peasant is you ask me, but there is something to be learned from all of those farming peasants out there. This is their surrender and satisfaction and commitment to…their land! and to themselves! The way farmers live the life of the labor of love is something venerable, honorable, and to be modeled after.
Where does labor of love meet justice? One must be just to oneself, and hold that law intimately. How does one be truly just? One does not follow the popular as much as follow the awareness of oneself and one’s growth.
When I chart the growth of a cheese, I chart the same rhythm with my own personal growth. It is steady, it is incremental, and it is just as esoteric. Just as I know the ideal conditions for a cheese to thrive, so I know and seek the ideal conditions for my body to thrive in its life engaged state of challenge, balance, structure, and free form.
The way a farmer works in a field reflects all of that quest. Their vision is tied to the land.
To me, this gets back to the American dream in a way we can all understand.
***Read C. Wright Mills. White Collar: The American Middle Classes