Selling farmland is highly offensive if it causes irreparable harm to the community

Agricultural social norms are different than urban when it comes to land.

Midhurst was often a retirement spot for farmers. Now, when you see certain neighbours, there’s silence and sadness. No one disputes they had the legal right to sell. It’s how they did it and the affect it will have, that is where the shunning comes in. The families were multi-generational: they knew or should have known the near-hatred they will sense.

I noticed at the Midhurst Community Centre this weekend that they’re being spoken about in the past tense; as if they were dead.

In a social or group sense, they are. They forgot that their strength came from the land. They’ve bought into the current cult of the individual and chosen to not only poison their own well: They’re poisoning everyone else’s who haven’t broken covenant with the agrarian ideals of co-operation, egalitarianism and charity. Greed is good, is not acceptable behavior in certain communities, no matter how many movies say otherwise.  Shame is a social penalty for breaking taboos.

  • Hubris: means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance…a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. Wikidpedia
  • Seven Deadly Sins: In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. Wikidpedia

Some money costs too much.


Men were honest because public opinion would have ruthlessly excluded from the society a man who, in the local language, “was not quite straight.” The judgment would have been certain and final and the punishment would have extended to his wife and children.

A man would have been excluded with almost equal severity if he had shown himself to be unneighborly. Every farm was subject to sudden emergencies. Wives or livestock had difficult births, death struck; a barn had to be raised or a horse removed from a well. There were also, the regular jobs, notably threshing, which required a crew. The common law on these matters was also clear and well enforced. A man was obliged to put his neighbour’s need ahead of his own and everyone did. Occasionally there were complaints that a man called for help too readily. But no one ever declined.

Again the social penalty would have been too severe. It is a great mistake to imagine that prisons and fines are the only means that a community has of enforcing its laws. Nor are they necessarily the most drastic.

The Scotch, John Kenneth Galbraith, 1964, p. 47-8.


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