Reaching Back to Push Forward

Life is something that we should cherish with every passing breath. Often times we do not appreciate the simplest things like the feel of cool breeze on a hot summer day; the taste of a fresh glass of homemade lemonade so cold that the outside of the glass drips; the deep red color of a vine-ripened tomato as its thinly sliced for a tomato sandwich slightly smeared with JFG mayonnaise.

I am pondering the common ground between the generations of Americans that now bind us as a people. At one time it was our country’s deep agricultural heritage, the connection to the soil and what through sweat and hard work it could provide for both the sustenance and financial gain of the family. Military service in war after war, generation after generation which itself found its origins and its battles in the farm and pasturelands that was the battles were fought upon.

Generations of Americans even those that lived in the cities, depended upon family farms to provide what our country needed to survive. In my lifetime, we have seen farming shift to larger business concerns and several generations of individuals never walked behind a plow or rode upon a tractor. They didn’t grow up on the farm or even spend days helping their grandparents haul hay, cut okra, pick tomatoes, pull corn, put up cans and churn butter.

So what does this mean for the future of our country, for the preservation of our lifestyle and the heritage of our communities? Are we destined to one-day build museums dedicated to the preservation of subdivisions and shopping malls? What values of history are we giving the latest generation? Will they look back at a tractor and ask, “What’s that?” Or better yet not know that those chicken nuggets you buy at those fast food restaurants actually come from chickens.

With generations of Americans who have little or no practical daily connection to the land, how will they sustain themselves in an emergency? What happens when milk can no longer be sent from the far off mega-farms of the west? I bet there aren’t many households that have shelves lined with canned goods enough to get the family through to the next growing season, as was my parent’s and grandparent’s custom. What will happen to a generation if there is no way to move food from place to place?

During the worst period in this country’s history, the Great Depression, even the poorest farmer, who was not devastated by natural disasters such as the dust storms, had some amount of food to eat. Thousands of people who lived in the cities were able to receive food in soup lines because many farmers were able to keep working the land and caring people were willing to help those in need. They all had a connection to the land.

If our state, our county, our community was totally cut off from the outside world could we survive? Do we have a plan in place to feed and meet the needs of our population? Could we create the items needed for day-to-day life? Do we have the people who have the knowledge to do that?

It will take a joint effort at a local level, community to community, neighbor to neighbor, to see that each family or person makes it through in any emergency situation.
Will America ever face some catastrophe that will throw us backwards in time wishing that we had a few acres to plant potatoes and a milk cow to provide some milk and a horse to ride to town?

I don’t know but even if it didn’t, it probably wouldn’t hurt if everybody knew how to dig taters, which part of the cow the milk comes from and how to get it to come out. By the way, just how do you get the key in a horse’s ignition and more important where are the brakes on one of them things. Just kidding, of course I know where the brakes are… Whoa, Nelly.

Do I have the answers as to what the future will be like, of course not, that is only in the Hands of God. Do I have a hope as to what I would like it to be? I certainly do.
I see an America that is covered with strong communities of caring and loving individuals who give their neighbors a helping hand when it is needed. They go out of their way to help pick up a man when he is down, brush him off and help him along life’s road.

I see an America where greed and crime is something that exists only in the minds of creative novelists and film directors instead of the eyes our fellow man. I see an America where you make choices that are good for all the people not just a chosen few. I see an America where when a leader actually stands up and says something he or she actually believes it rather than assuming it is what the public needs or wants to hear. I see an America where his or her words of inspiration can actually mobilize this country towards a common good of creating a world that will be something our future generations can build from rather than have to pay for.

I see an America where each community is capable of standing on its own using the talents of its citizenry and the abilities of its businesses and industries no matter what the country as a whole may have to withstand in its future.

My friends the future of America is up to each one of us, its not just the job of people in Washington, DC, the state capital, the county seat, or even the guy next door or the woman down the street, it takes each of us working every single day improving our community as a whole by stepping outside our comfort zones and reaching out to make a difference.

It is up to us to have our own lives prepared for emergencies and to work with our local leaders to make sure that plans are in place. It is only through preparation that we as individuals or communities can reach out and help others, secure in the knowledge that our own families and communities are safe and adequate supplies are available to meet the needs at home.

Will this generation and those that follow be less because they are further removed from America’s rural roots? I think as long as our society continues to head in the same direction, each generation will make their way but it’s the ‘what ifs’ that sometime worry me and make me ever thankful that God is in control. He expects all of us to do our part though. Perhaps getting closer to an understanding that the role farming plays in our lives and making sure that that the local family farmers never vanish from our history might be one way we can improve our little corner of the world.