10 / CHRONICLESnRansom have been expanded upon by such diverse writersnas Jacques Ellul, Richard Weaver, and Wendell Berry. Butnin the declining years of the 20th century, it seems lessnlikely than ever that Western man will have the wits tonreclaim his inheritance.nWe have invested so much of our self-esteem into thenmaterial signs of progress that we cannot heed the evidencenof our own hearts. If we are so satisfied with the works of ournhands, why do we spend the happiest part of the year onnvacation, getting away from a world that has only one facento show us—our own? But however tired we grow of all thisncivility—the solitude of one species talking to itself—wencannot admit that the very wealth of creation reflects innsome way the abundance of nature’s God. We systematicallyndestroy the habitats of countless wild creatures, but ournloneliness compels us to take birds and beasts into ournhouses and give them endearing names. The man who livesnonly for his month in the Maine woods or trout fishing innthe Rockies will sneer at the suggestion that there isnsomething wrong with a country he has helped to make sonunlovely.nIt is fashionable for Conservatives to dislike the Romantics,nespecially those who have read Babbitt’s Rousseau andnRomanticism. Romantic poets like Scott and Wordsworthnhad at least one great lesson to teach the men of thenEnlightenment; reason and science were not the bread ofnlife. We may smile at Wordsworth for pretending to believe:nOne impulse in a vernal woodnMay tell you more of mannOf moral evil and of goodnThan all the sages can.nBut if nature cannot be your teacher, what can? The OldnTestament sees God in a burning bush and upon the waters.nWill we see Him in a nuclear reactor? C.S. Lewis (innPilgrim’s Regress) made the case for romanticism as annecessary stepping stone back from modernism. By “worshiping”nnature, we will, at least, escape the idolatrousnadoration of the machines we have created with our ownnhands.nThe agrarian dream was unquestionably a lost cause evennin the 1930’s, but the vision that lay behind the dream isnpart of a perennial wisdom, a wisdom that recognizes thatnman cannot be happy estranged from himself. If wenconsider man only as we know him now, Homo americanusn1986, we must acknowledge that gardening remainsnhis most common hobby, that hunting and fishing arenamong his favorite sports—to say nothing of camping,nhiking, and bird-watching. It is scarcely Utopian to suggestnthat we confront this fact of life head-on and recognize thatneven we retain some elements of pre-lapsarian man.n”Cultiver notre jardin” was Gandide’s conclusion afternsurveying the follies of the human race. That may be thenbest possible advice in this not quite the best of all possiblenworlds. Gardening compels a man to reground himself innthe endless rhythms of the seasons and the cycles of floodnand drought. Nine to five the old man wears a suit and sitsnin an office taking calls and dictating memos. His children,ndragooned into working beside him, catch a glimpse of thenprimeval father. How can a son grow up to accept responsibility,nto know what it is to be a man, if he never learns tonnnshare in productive work at his father’s side? How will andaughter learn to tell a real man from the look-alikes beingnturned out of colleges and MBA programs every year? Butnif, when father comes home, he reassumes some of hisnancient dignity by grubbing arsy-versy in the garden, hisnchildren may learn to regard him as something more than angrunt and a checkbook.nIt is increasingly difficult for children to grow up in anfragmented society. Their time is divided between home,nschool, clubs, lessons, between the sense of reality theynacquire at home and the fictions they hear in school.nNeither gardening nor rural sports can put all the piecesntogether, but they can provide the setting for families tonlive, for a change, as families.nIs that the remedy for every social ill—a 20′ by 20’ngarden plot? Hardly, but it is preferable to the inevitablenalternatives. Modern man, being what he is, will search fornpolitical solutions to the problems he has created. Wenalready hear the cries for more research, new programs,nbills that must be passed if we are to save the family ornprevent teenage suicide. Hire more counselors, artsnadministrators—ah right, even horticultural consultants —nto support the family. This is the grand illusion of our time:nthat what men and women cannot do for themselves, eithernindividually or acting through natural communities, othernmen and women—far away from the problem—can. AsnAndrew Lytic has said more than once, “The opposite ofnlove is not hatred. It is the addiction to power.”nThe gardener builds up a partial immunity to the drug.nHe learns to love his own bit of land more than the rest ofnthe world put together. To that extent, he is more inclinednto pay attention to his own affairs. He loves his ownnland—his plot, his neighborhood, his country—too wellnto be seduced by any ideology. Rural America wasnisolationist—sometimes dangerously so—and cheerednGalvin Coolidge’s answer to a wise guy who wanted to knownwhat he did with his time: “I minded my own business.”nWhat will become of this rural nation now that we haventurned over its governance to the residents of the dullestnimperial capital since Hattusas? I think we know.nThe gardener also learns, sometimes painfully, the limitsnto his own power. Karel Capek summed up the gardener’snpolitical creed in his remarkable little book. The Gardener’snYear, published only a year before I’ll Take My Stand!:nA man who has a little garden inevitably becomes anprivate proprietor; then not any rose grows in it, butnhis rose; then he does not see, or say, that thencherries are already in flower, but that his cherriesnare already in bloom. A man who is a proprietornenters into a certain kind of relationship with hisnneighbors; for instance, as regards the weather, hensays, “We ought not to have more rain,” or thatn”We have had a nice shower.” . . . But it is equallyntrue that it awakens frightfully strong selfishninstincts of private enterprise and property. There isnno doubt that a man would go to fight for his faith,nbut still more willingly and fiercely would he fightnfor his littie garden. The man who is the owner ofnsome yards of land, and is growing something on it,n(continued on page 21)n