For hypothetical connection. Two strangers talking over a counter, the one ringing up groceries, the other sipping his coffee. Words slip through the buzz. “He could be so much better than he is,” says the one. “If he sticks around he could be so much better next year.” The other nods. “I think the kid just needs a cheerleader.” This boy, his presence only imagined, hanging too easily in the air over a loaf of bread and a bag of chips. A troubled youth. A basketball player? Two strangers over a grocery counter: the only boy held by both in common would be public knowledge, public property, everyone’s business and no one’s responsibility. We can comfortably analyze his sins, safe from seeing the inevitable reflection of our own. We can chastise without resentment, prescribe without consequence, sympathize without hope—hope being the most dangerous consequence of all. And having done our duty, pass over in ignorance the real presence around us. The woman buying a thank-you card needs a cheerleader. The man in line behind her could be so much better than he is. Who knows?
About The New AgrarianI have been planting content here off and on since 2002, with occasional attempts at cultivation and pruning. All of it swirls around more or less agrarian ideas: food and agriculture, including some practical things, but also craft, community, technology, embodiment, history, sustainability, nature, and place. As you might guess, I’ve changed my mind a few times on all these topics since I started a decade ago. I cultivate, but not always in neat rows. Read my Explanation and Apologia to learn more.
The fine printThe New Agrarian is copyright ©2002–2017 by David Walbert. All rights reserved, but I'm generally pretty nice about sharing, so feel free to ask.