Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Which rural values?

March 23, 2013 | 4 Comments

EDITOR: In the title of the article this morning, the writer describes Defend Rural American as an organization that “defends mining rights and rural values.” But which rural values, exactly, does this organization defend? The writer doesn’t say; and a Google search for the phrase “rural values” on turns up no hits.

Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer, essayist, and poet, is widely regarded as a defender of certain kinds of rural values: tight-knit families, neighbors helping neighbors, thrift, a reverence for the wisdom of tradition (without falling into thoughtless dogmatism), a belief that some things are more important than money, and the responsibility humans have as stewards of the land. In his essay “Nature as Measure,” and many other places, he calls for “a conscious and careful recognition of the interdependence between ourselves and the nature,” arguing that a healthy community requires a healthy environment requires a healthy community.

Berry can’t claim to have a monopoly on rural values, of course. There are other sets of values that have been held in rural communities in our country for a very long time. There is the value that nature is nothing more than a set of resources, to be extracted as quickly as possible in order to produce as much wealth as possible. (But wealth for whom?) There is the value that greed is good, and the best farmer, rancher, or miner is the one who produces the most, regardless of the environmental or social costs.

There is hostility towards “city folks” (“flatlanders,” as we call them in El Dorado County), seeing them as competitors and enemies rather than potential collaborators. Often there is a shade of racism, as worries about “Central Bankers” slide into worries about “the Rothschilds” and then anti-Semitism.

I’m still not sure which rural values Defend Rural America upholds. But I worry that they’re not my rural values. And if they’re not, then just what kind of rural communities is Defend Rural America defending?


South Bend, Ind.

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 4 comments

  • EvelynMarch 23, 2013 - 6:57 am

    It's amazing that Daniel J. Hicks, Ph.D., remains in the dark about Defend Rural America's values. Perhaps he might more closely explore their website (here), which has links to: • Big Government • Central Banking • Conservation Easements • EAJA • Endangered Species Act • Executive Order 13547 • Governance • Public Lands • Scientific Misconduct • Wolves • Drakes Bay Oyster Farm • Montana • Siskiyou County • Counties • Energy • Forestry • Mining • The 5-Point Plan • The Constitutional CountyTM • Consultation • Coordination • Grand Juries • Jurisdiction • Land Patents • Sheriffs ********** I excluded the listed Agenda 21, which by now we all know doesn't exist.

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  • EvelynMarch 23, 2013 - 7:08 am

    Daniel J. Hicks, Ph.D.: A million thanks. Previously I had seen DefendRuralAmerica's website but had not lingered -- some really good material.

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  • MelodyMarch 23, 2013 - 9:50 am

    The answer to what kind of values & rural communities DRA defends is available on their website: NOTE EXCERPTS: THE TRUTH IS DISTURBING - The nation’s rural communities are under attack from every direction: agency abuses and threats; regulatory excesses; private property and water grabs; soaring costs, fees, penalties, and taxes; ceaseless lawsuits; predatory animal reintroductions; and more. THE PUBLIC HAS BEEN MISLEAD - Few are aware this war is going on, so complete is the media blackout. Worse yet, the public increasingly votes adverse to rural interests, largely as the result of grossly false mis-information promoted by media and the educational system. “When you cease to advocate for what is right, you become an advocate for what is wrong.”

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMarch 23, 2013 - 11:23 am

    “flatlanders” Im a flatlander who came here 20+ ago to live. MY OWN grandmother told me to keep my mouth shut for five years--then she said to just listen...get to know the history--the way of life in a rural community. (She said it was much different than coming from Los Angeles.) Then for five more years just help--not shove my opinions at any one--help. I was told that she believed I would be a "flatlander" for 13 yrs. My friends gave me a party--sweet. I never felt any form of prejudging--with the exception of my grandfather--who kept referring to me as the stupid city kid...although countless times--I told him that no one gave us axes in LA. He wouldnt let me touch the ax for a month-- I had to watch him cut kindling every day for that month. First time I did get to use it--I cut my finger...lolololol..had to watch again for a month. I miss them. "Flatlander" I understand why--but I listened to my grandparents--it is a very different kind of life. In many ways its harder--yet at the end of the day more satisfying. I did learn to cut wood...two black eyes, two half casts, and one severely bruised leg later, I inherited my grandmothers ax. I agree--great site for information.

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