The Secret in the Soil

The first man, the ruler of the whole world, was given a garden to cultivate; and many of the world's greatest men, its real nobility, have been tillers of the soil.”[1]

In a world where many of us no longer work with the soil, is it possible that we are missing out on lessons that can only be taught by getting our hands dirty? Where once the majority of the world just a century ago were farmers, today that is becoming a distant memory for many. This has been done in the name of progress, but has it made life better? 

It was the richest man who ever lived – King Solomon – who said, “The king himself is served by the field.”[2]

He who earns his livelihood by agriculture escapes many temptations and enjoys unnumbered privileges and blessings denied to those whose work lies in the great cities. And in these days of mammoth trusts and business competition, there are few who enjoy so real an independence and so great certainty of fair return for their labor as does the tiller of the soil.[3]

As counter cultural as it sounds, there are still valid reasons to find a way to keep growing something. Even if it is not a full farm or garden, we all can find a pot and time to put seeds in the soil, water those seeds and watch a miracle take place in front of us. 

In her book The Ministry of Healing, 19thcentury innovator and author Ellen White writes on a model that seemed to be the ideal regarding life in the ancient land of Palestine – “every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To the world's departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today.” 

White continued to ponder the beneficial impact of these ideas upon all society even in the modern era: 

Thus, also, our schools could aid effectively in the disposition of the unemployed masses. Thousands of helpless and starving beings, whose numbers are daily swelling the ranks of the criminal classes, might achieve self-support in a happy, healthy, independent life if they could be directed in skillful, diligent labor in the tilling of the soil.[4]

It was one of the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson who said  - “the proportion which the aggregate of the other classes of citizens bears in any state to that of its husbandmen (farmers), is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a good-enough barometer whereby to measure its degree of corruption. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.”[5]

By Andrew Allen

[1]Ellen G. White, Education,(Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1952), 219

[2]Ecclesiastes 5:9

[3]Ibid,219

[4]Ibid, 219

[5]Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia(Richmond: J. W. Randolph, 1853). Originally written in 1781 and first published in 1784.


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