A fine piece of writing by Pope Pius XII on farming. Some of his quotes deserve amplification and rumination. Delivered in 1946..
For a start, a nice mention of consumerism ante litteram...
Contact with NatureMore than anyone else. you live in continual contact with nature. It is actual contact, since your lives are lived in places still remote from the excesses of an artificial civilization. Under the sun of the Heavenly Father your lives are dedicated to bringing forth from the depths of the earth the abundant riches which His hand has hidden there for you. Your contact with Mother Earth has also a deep social significance, because your families are not merely consumer-communities but also and especially producer-communities.And some context - an awareness of land degradation, and an interesting mention of land mines (highly relevant in 1946, and in some places undiminishedly so):
Sin did, in truth, render labor in the fields burdensome, but it was not sin that introduced such labor into the world. Before there was any sin, "God gave man the earth for his cultivation as the most beautiful and honorable occupation in the natural order." In the wake of the original sin of our first parents, all the actual sins of humanity have caused the curse to weigh upon the earth with increasing heaviness. The soil has suffered successive scourges of every kind-floods, earthquakes, pestilence, devastating wars, and land mines. In some places it has become sterile, barren, and unwholesome, and has refused to yield to man its hidden treasures.
And quite a vivid statement on what we might call 'the sustainability of the virtues' by contrast with greed and profit -
We must preserve the qualities of industriousness, simple and honest living, respect for authority, especially for parental authority, love of country, and loyalty to traditions which have proved a source of good throughout the centuries. We must preserve readiness to aid one another within the family circle and amongst families, from home to home. All of these qualities we must have animated with a true religious spirit, for without such a spirit these very virtues tend to degenerate into unbridled greed for profit.
But this is put in an extremely particularized frame, which focuses on the particular farmer's intimate knowledge of particular land. Note the move from general environmental concern down to particular knowledge of - almost a connaturalitas with - the land:
The earth is a huge wounded creature; she is ill. Bending over her, not as a slave over the clod, but as the physician over a prostrate sufferer, the tiller lovingly showers on her his care. But love, for all that it is so necessary, is not enough. To know nature, to know, so to speak, the temperament of one's own piece of land, sometimes so different from that of the very next plot; to be able to discover the germs that spoil it, the rodents that would burrow beneath it, the worms that would eat its fruits, the weeds that would infest its crops; to determine what elements it lacks and to choose the successive plantings that will enrich it even while it rests -- these and so many other things require wide and varied knowledge and information.
And the take home-message.... -
It devolves upon you, therefore, to demonstrate that on account of its family character farming does not exclude the advantages of other kinds of business, and, furthermore, that it avoids their evils. Be adaptable, attentive, and active stewards of your native soil, which is to be used but never exploited. Let it be seen that you are thinking, thrifty men, open to progress, men who courageously employ your own and others' capital to help and supplement your labor, provided that such expenditure does not endanger the future of your families. Show that you are honest in your sales, that you are not greedily shrewd at the expense of the public, and that you are well-disposed buyers in your country's markets.
"...used but never exploited" - think about that as you splash around a fine mist of Round Up, suburbanites....