There are some people that believe that we should require compulsory military service in the U.S. before you can become a citizen. While I admire the men and women of our armed forces past and present, and I would not hesitate to serve myself if it were required of me, I’ve always felt that a good alternative would be to require citizens to work on a farm for two years.
First, because farmers are some of the hardest working people in the world (read this Hillbilly’s Letter Home from the Army). And second, because it would help to reintroduce some laws of nature that many people raised in the Age of the Internet have never learned: The Laws of the Harvest.
I know the concept of a harvest may need to be explained to the youngsters out there. Here are some general principles behind farming.
1. When you plant corn in the ground, you receive back corn. In other words, you get back, what you put out. This is known as the Law of Reciprocity.
This is a practically universal teaching of every world religion. The golden rule, you reap what you sow, what comes around goes around, karma is a mafia princess (paraphrased). From a purely selfish standpoint, it would be a good idea not to be a jerk. People will treat you like a jerk. If you speak in a way that is energetic, empowering, and optimistic you will live a life that is full of energy, power, and optimism. It’s better to speak words of honey not of bile in case you need to eat those words later.
2. You receive more corn out of the ground, than you plant into the ground. Or, you get back more of what you put in. This is the Law of Increasing Returns.
How viable would our system of agriculture be if for every ear of corn you planted, you received back exactly one ear of corn. Why bother planting it? Just eat the one you have. Fortunately, the earth was designed to provide abundantly. A single kernel of corn has the potential to yield hundreds of millions of ears of corn.
And so does a single act of kindness. Or a single harsh statement. Or a single lie. Or a single blessing. Our words and actions when sown out in the world have the power to multiply and increase in power a thousandfold. Being a little bit of a jerk can sometimes result in you being run over by a busload of jerks.
3. Once you plant the corn, you need to wait for it to grow. You cannot keep digging up your kernels to check on them. You plant seeds, you water them, but you also must wait for nature to allow them to develop a life of it’s own. This is The Law of Delayed Gratification.
You can’t expect to reap rewards without putting out seeds of effort first. That would be like expecting your fireplace to provide you heat before you give it wood. It doesn’t work with inanimate objects and it doesn’t work with people either. Try telling your boss that you will work harder after he gives you a raise.
Also, we need to understand that a harvest completes on its own schedule, not on ours. I may have already spent some time complaining about the microwave mentality that people have these days. But anything worthwhile requires nurturing. Raising children, forming a relationship, developing a talent. Be willing to put forth the effort, even if you don’t see the results immediately. Have faith, that the laws of nature will not make an exception just for you.
These are basic lessons about life and nature, sorely missing in today’s education standards, all because of our lack of agrarian society. (Full disclosure: I’ve never worked on a farm and probably couldn’t handle the physical labor, but the philosophy of the farm I am totally down with).
What other laws of man and nature can be learned on a farm?