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Play In The Home And Its Environs

The hope and glory of this country have always been its farm homes. Here have been nourished most of our great men. Here have been bred the sturdy self-reliance and in-dependence that is not easily led astray by mobs or demagogues, that does not follow each will-o'-the-wisp that flaunts across the times. In the farm family there is an intimacy of knowledge and experience that is not in other families, for all are partners in a common undertaking. The farm offers to the children an out-door life, and helpful tasks, and dogs and pigs and sheep and horses for friends, and work to do, and the forest and stream with all their wild inhabitants to stir old racial memories. If to this is added sympathy and an appreciation of those subtler values of the spirit which money cannot buy and the purse may not contain, and if the necessary chores and occasional work are not allowed to become child labor, then the farm is the ideal place to rear children.

The besetting sin of the American farmer has always been his materialism. In his pursuit of a living he has forgotten to live. Hunting and fishing, which have furnished most of the adventure and sport to the farm, have well-nigh gone. With each decade the farms have become larger and the children fewer. Race suicide in the country is a double tragedy; because the only child in the country home has no one to play with and grows up a little old man or woman. The children have furnished most of the idealism and poetry to country life. Their play has relieved its monotony. Their future has furnished motive and aspiration to what otherwise would have been drudgery. But the farm woman must have more time to organize the social life of her family and the community. The farmer must see in the play of his children the spirit of childhood, that may never be sacrificed to farm profits.

The Country Life Commission has given us a new vision, which all must be made to see ; the primary question for the country to solve is not the question of profitable agriculture, but the question of a life that is worth while. If this and the rearing of a worthy family rather than acres may become the ambition of the American farmer, then the country community may well be the ideal for all society to follow.

( Originally Published 1914 )

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