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Tradition and Technology

January 30, 2012

In the book “Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past” I took a look at things past and present – community, rebuilding our country. Sometimes it takes looking at the past to look forward. I’ve often said that here at SlowMoneyFarm we blend tradition with technology. The barn we have planned will be solar/wind powered. At the same time we use many techniques some say are old fashioned – including choice of breeds and varieties.

So it isn’t surprising that we push forward with marketing as a means to finance our land purchase, as frustrating as that sometimes is. We purchase at best value prices when we can on equipment.We aim for doing the best we can with what we have to make our prices as reasonable as we can. This is cheap to some, too high for others…but in the spirit of food (and farm) choices, enables us to move forward!

So it’s with this we share a story from the past. November 10, 1779.

“When I was a child at seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to  a shop, where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntary offered him all my money for it. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards f use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and so I saved my money.”

The author goes on to give several examples, not just financial. “If I knew a miser,who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth: Poor man, says I, you do indeed pay to much for your whistle.”

He concludes with “In short, I conceived that a great part of the mseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.”

This is from The Whistle, written by Benjamin Franklin. These things still make sense today. If our prices are slightly lower than others, but provide a living, then do food choices cost more or are some paying too much for that whistle? If there is value on things, in life and in finances, it takes a balance of all to build a life. Having money, he shows, isn’t enough.

We are determined to pass along what we have – it’s why we have sponsorships of food boxes. Now if we provide 1,000 food boxes then there will be 1,000 families with something to eat…is that bad? I don’t think so!! It would be a blessing to be able to help others.

Value is good. Helping others is good. Tradition is good. It was wise advice in 1779 and is still wise advice today. Don’t pay too much for your whistle. Don’t miss life.

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