“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream.”
— Edward Abbey
We humans are an interesting lot. For all the toil of our ancestors to have landed us in this land of plenty, we somehow still managed along the way to want something more, or different in some inexplicable way. And in that quest, we have given up so much.
Those hard-earned accomplishments of our ancestors had become their individualized skills, gifts to a searching community. A blacksmith shop held possibilities of much more than the creation of horseshoes. Though just a simple barn, it was filled with the tools and the touch to forge just about any solution to a need, whether great or small. Skill was learned, then taught.
No matter the specialty, the knowledge to accomplish a task or a product was shared with their children, neighbors and hired hands, strengthening a community not just in the moment, but for the continuing survival of the next, unseen, unknown generation. A rural community was rich, even among its most poor.
It was that ability to accomplish what was needed that set everyone on a solid trail of freedom. Products could be bartered for services, and small children helped neighbors accomplish daily chores by supplying labor, learning so much in the process of completing a task.
A child that learns enough can think on his feet, saving himself even in the midst of the most challenging situation. This is how self-confidence is born, and that seed, planted here and there, builds a better nation.
“Neither to serve nor to rule” was the motto that built our country and created steely individuals filled with deep determination, pride and integrity, armed with the tools to survive and thrive. Somewhere along the generations, we have lost that magic, and squandered many strengths in the process.
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