Maclean's Editorial

A FARMER'S CREED

Frederick Philip Grove July 15 1937
Maclean's Editorial

A FARMER'S CREED

Frederick Philip Grove July 15 1937

A FARMER'S CREED

Maclean's Editorial

A Guest Editorial by Frederick Philip Grove

I. I believe in life. That is to say I believe in the thing which passes understanding and cannot be approached by the mind; it can be accepted only as given and is therefore “sacred.” Since I am a living being myself, I believe I am one with all that lives; all joy is my joy; all pain, my pain.

II. I believe in the soil. That is to say I believe that not a hair from my head nor a feather from a sparrow’s wing can fall without being taken account of by the soil; the soil must be served; the soil is supreme. Empires have risen and fallen according as they served the soil or neglected it. No pride in large estates avails; Rome died of it. If a given piece of soil yields better, not in exportable surplus but in human contentment, when supporting three men where it supported one, then the soil if held by one will avenge itself even though it may take generations to do so.

III. I believe in the race. That is to say I believe that the fact of my being mortal and, therefore, unlikely to sit in the shade of the sapling I may or may not be planting, is no reason why I should not plant it. In other words, I believe that the material unattainability of an ideal is no reason why I should cease striving after it. An ideal that can be attained will be attained and will then cease to be an ideal. I also believe that this my belief may be the belief of others as well; and if a lawyer, a doctor, a merchant has it, many things will be added unto him.

IV. I believe in the perfectibility of the race. That is I believe in education; not in the sense of teaching the young the methods by which we do things—those they will see of their own accord and they will find better ways of their own as a matter of course—but rather in the sense of enabling them to see the invisible behind the visible, the spiritual behind the material, as only the great that have lived before us were able to do. So that when they grow up they also will stand on the little plot of land which they own, under the sun or under the stars, and reach out, with tentative mind, into the great mysteries which surround us.

V. I believe in knowledge. That is to say I believe it is best to leave those who strive to increase our store of knowledge entirely free.

VI. I believe in order. That is to say I believe in a divinely ordained sequence of things, no matter how conditioned, whether by the personal direction of an omnipotent God or by what the scientists call natural law. This implies that I believe in the seasonal arrangement of events in nature; and in taking things as they come. I do not ask my strawberry patch to yield berries at Christmas.

VIL I believe in justice. That is to say I believe in living and letting live. But, while I agree to any man’s living as he pleases, even by buying

cheap and selling dear, I protest against that perversion of justice which enables a minority to batten on the distress of the majority. I cannot forget that a thing which I produce at a loss will be handled by others at a profit; and that, therefore, it is possible for a country in which every primary producer is bankrupt to be speciously prosperous in the reports of the statistician. Any injustice, even an injustice directed against myself, is a grievance.

VIII. I believe in liberty. That is to say I believe in law. Which is the same thing as saying that I believe in a limitation of my own freedom by that of others, and in a limitation by common consent of the freedom of others by mine. If a man’s chosen activity is found to prejudice the freedom of others, he must cease that activity and in case of need be forced to cease it. Thus the man who chooses to make not only his living but his fortune by juggling the market must be restrained, in case of need by treating him as any other public enemy is treated.

IX. I believe in peace. That is to say I believe it is wrong for anyone to call his neighbor “fool.” I am I; and my neighbor is another, if different, I. That is no reason why we should quarrel. If elsewhere man seeks salvation by communism or fascism, I am grateful to those who do so for conducting experiments which may or may not prove successful. But whoever uses their names as a term of contempt sows the seed of war; for to call your neighbor “fool” or “scoundrel” arouses anger; and anger is the root of all evil; toleration is peace.

X. I believe in progress. That is to say I believe that through the accumulation of knowledge we shall learn to appreciate the nature of things. For it is man’s task to find his own place, his own niche in the scheme of the world. Even the machine may help us better to understand the workings of that scheme. For a part of a whole to subordinate that whole to itself is a task beyond its powers; it is a dream that is dreamt. But if man, on awaking, is better fitted to subordinate himself to nature, then he has made a step toward bringing about the kingdom of nature on earth.

XL I believe in solvency. That is to say I believe in going without that for which I cannot pay. Without solvency true freedom is impossible for the individual as well as for the nation. I believe the installment’ plan is the curse of modern life; and the “science of salesmanship” sells into slavery.

XII. I believe in collective responsibility. That is to say I believe that man is a product of heredity and circumstance; and that is the same thing as saying that I believe in man’s fundamental innocence and equality. If my brother sin, then I sin with him because I permitted him to be born with a heredity or into an environment which made his sin a foregone conclusion. If there is smut in my oats, it is my fault, not the fault of the oats. If a human plant goes wrong, nought is to be gained by raging against that human plant; needs must we look to ourselves to find that which made it go wrong.