Across from the long lane I live down there used to be a farmstead. This typical farmstead had a couple barns, a machine shed, some grain bins, a bunch of trees, and a house that was in rough but not terrible shape. The woman who owned the land and the farmstead had been renting it out until she passed away last year. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the woman’s children decided to sell the land to the highest bidder. This of course meant that the land would be bought by the man who runs the 5,000 head cattle feedlot down the road.
Now, instead of continuing to rent the farmstead out to someone, or even selling it (he had several offers) this man decided to take out all the trees and the buildings except for the grain bins so that he could add a couple more acres of corn. When I go down the lane, all I see now is one sickly tree that remains as a sad reminder of the farmstead that was home to many families for many years.
This is not progress. Unless of course you measure progress in acres of corn. I, however, would like to see progress in the form of growing rural communities and an agriculture that is sustainable.
At this point in history you would think that humanity would have many of the issues that it faces figured out by now. That’s why it’s so frustrating that currently we’re living through a period where so many things are actually getting worse. (I know that’s a very pessimistic statement, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe it.) When I look at the farmstead that was destroyed for a couple acres of corn, I see a few very important aspects of humanity becoming worse.
It doesn’t stop there, however. The ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, the presence of global warming and the negative impacts it is having on the world, the unending war and violence in so many parts of the world. Shouldn’t we have some of these things figured out by now? A friend of mine recently told me that we do have it figured out, and it’s just that there is a constant struggle between those who work hard to make things better and those who strive only for their own personal gain.
So even though I’m pessimistic about the current state of things, I am optimistic that those who struggle to improve the state of the world can recruit a few more to their side so that they can overcome the harm done by those who simply don’t care. The Catholic Church is definitely a guiding force, but it has an even greater potential of becoming an even stronger promoter of peace and justice for all. As Catholics, we may sometimes disagree between ourselves about some of the rules of the Church, but despite those disagreements, the core teaching of leading a good life and helping those who are less fortunate will always remain and bond us together so that we can work to make things better in this world.