Last night, Philip and I watched Promised Land, a film adapted from a Dave Eggers’ story by Matt Damon and John Krasinski. Oh and Gus Van Sant directed – talk about a powerhouse group for a film.
And it was good – although perhaps a little too heavy-handed in setting out the central conflict – the decisions of a small town when a natural gas company offers them big money to frack their land.
I enjoyed the film a great deal, mostly because it presents a very real dilemma that many rural communities face in big and small ways every day: big business (Walmart, natural gas drilling, nuclear waste disposal) comes with lots of money that will truly help many, many people, but their gift also comes with a price – small business closures, land desecration, the potential for major medical problems in the community’s citizens.
I don’t have the answers to these dilemmas for anyone else – but I know the answer for me, even as I realize I’m able to choose this answer because of my privilege – I will always do my best to choose the health of the land, the health of small business, and the health of people for the long-run rather than choose a payment, no matter how much those payments may truly help. As they say at the end of the film, to choose otherwise is to place “too much on the betting table.”
I’ve been reading Joel Salatin’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World, and I’m reminded of how much I need to be more focused on the choices about where my food comes from. I know how to make these choices well – and that’s something many people in the United States have never been taught – but sometimes, I choose expediency or price over quality and source. I’m publicly committing here to do better.
Sometimes the better choice costs more, and sometimes it costs us time and energy – all things that are in short supply it seems. But I’m convinced that these choices will be the best in the long-run for my family, my farm, and for all of us. Harder for me may mean better for all.
So that chapter in God’s Whisper Manifesto that’s called “As Green As Possible Without Being Stupid,” I’m still convinced it’s what we need here. I hear the voice of Wendell Berry:
We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.
How do you make these hard choices between expense and long-term health? I’d be eager to hear your perspective and your wisdom.
If you’re still looking for holiday gifts, be sure to visit our Farm Store, where you can get a great calendar or give the gift of recognition by gifting a post for our goat fence. Or visit our Etsy store to get crocheted animals (special requests encouraged), walking sticks, bandsaw boxes,