LOOK TO THE LAND
We have tried to conquer nature by force and by intellect. It now remains for us to try the way of love. ‘Without vision the people perish.’ So wrote the poet William Blake. Lord Northbourne diagnosed the sickness of modern society as stemming from the severance of its organic links with the wholeness of life. His early advocacy of organic agriculture (he is said to have coined the term) was joined to a deep conviction that humanity does not live by bread alone, and that the fullness of human life demands obedience to sacred law. His ‘vision of life came to embrace fully the interrelationship of God, humanity, and the soil as a unity presupposing a way of life in stark contrast to that of the myopic, mechanistic world he saw encroaching on all sides. And so, as it becomes more and more evident that such a way of life stands to imperil our very future and that of the delicate ecosystem on which all life depends, it is time to re-examine the work of this pioneering thinker, whose vision of what is required by a truly meaningful and sustainable society embraced traditional metaphysics, religion, farming, the arts, the rural crafts, and monetary reform. He had a special gift for expressing the profoundest truths in simple and graceful language— without however ever `popularizing’— and his work, first published more than 60 years ago, was so remarkably prescient that only now, perhaps, are more profound ecological thinkers approaching the point where his deep metaphysical insights can begin to fructify their work.