A Happy Peasant

Plymouth Gothic“The job of peasants, you might say, is to stay out of the archives.”

–John Scott, “The Art of Not Being Governed”

A half dozen years ago I made an important realization: I am a peasant. The word came to me from biologist and plant breeder Carol Deppe, through a comment she made in one of her books. At first I felt insulted by the realization, but I quickly warmed to it. To be a peasant is to be one of the people; a person – really, a sovereign individual – one for whom this nation was designed, and through whom it has for 200 years been a haven and a shining example of the success of the notion that the people, we peasants, do not need overlords in order to have productive, satisfying lives filled with meaning and purpose.

Of course, those who believe themselves destined to rule don’t like the idea of a multitude of individuals going about our own business, minding ourselves and leaving our neighbors to mind themselves. The would-be lords and ladies want to manage our affairs, they want to guide and instruct us in the right way to live, and the proper goals to pursue – all of which somehow seem to benefit them at our expense, and fulfill their lusts for power by depriving us of our god-given authority to author our own fortunes. And so they form alliances and gradually insinuate themselves into our affairs, indoctrinating and undermining and deceiving and betraying, all in the name of advancing their power and our compliance. And when that doesn’t work, they employ force.

They also are the ones concerned with how they look in history. We peasants live our lives in happy anonymity, content with the personal, familial, and community pleasures we offer to and receive from one another. We are not in the history books, which are written by the would-be lords and ladies to impress one another and leave some kind of ‘mark’ of their passing.

I realized that my true genius lies not in what might make me more than or better than others, but in the little things that differentiate me as an individual, who am otherwise so much like everyone else.

I happily belong with the “little people.” I cherish anonymity, knowing that I matter to those who matter to me, and that such mutual mattering is what truly matters.