There are three kinds of communities of people that I find especially admirable, and they correspond to three kinds of people who to me exemplify in different ways strength and happiness and self-sufficiency.
The first kind is the farmer or gardener. The people who have the knowledge and the skills to grow their own food, especially in more self-sustaining ways that require minimal extra artificial chemical inputs, are a blessed people. Their food comes not from continents away, not from chemists and geneticists, not from giant grocery stores, but from soil and sunlight and water and seeds. They make the earth around them healthy and beautiful, wilder than lawns but tamer than wilderness. Their lives are cheaper when times are good, and they have sustenance when times are bad, and at all times their wholesome habit more than pays for itself. When they congregate, they talk about weather and pests and harvests over food lovingly grown and lovingly prepared.
The second kind is the soldier, the warrior, the tough. The people who can defend themselves when the need arises have a confidence and swagger that everyone else will envy or admire. They know how to train their bodies and sustain them at a high level, for endurance and for strength. They know how to support their bodily health with good nutrition and rest. They know how to fight effectively without any weapons, and which weapons to use when weapons are called for, and how to use them. They can organize themselves and others, know how to think ahead, anticipate, defend, to lash out at weak points. One of them alone is a force to be reckoned with, an island around which the waves of people will quietly slide. A community of them is given full respect.
The third kind splits three different ways in my head. For my background, and my interests as a Straussian, this triplet fits together naturally, but for others it will seem an irreconcilable combination. The three are the priest or theologian, the politician, and the scholar or philosopher. In the ancient world where society is divided in three parts, the first two tend to be farmer and soldier, and the third tends to be some portion of this final triplet, whether we are thinking of Plato’s Republic, Isocrates’ Busiris, or the medieval view that “some work, some fight, some pray.”
The scholar can spend hours learning new ideas or tools, seeking to understand histories and interpret texts, and searching for truth and for defences of the truth. It is long, painstaking work, and it is a delight in itself and a blessing to the world. The wise person seeks knowledge that can help the world, and searches out the words and the avenues by which that knowledge can be delivered where it is needed most. The solitary scholar is happy and hardworking, and the community of scholars is a network of debate and ever-increasing insight.
The religious person prays and receives sacraments, learns orthodox doctrine and experiences mystical realities. The quest is for virtue and a pure heart and the vision of God. The religious person continuously desires for God’s will and God’s justice to be present in our world. The saint is a manifestation of light and love, and the religious community is a burning fire stretching toward heaven.
The politician knows how to give a speech to a crowd and also knows when and whom to address in private, and how to motivate the key actors who might be hesitant. The politician knows how to get things done, and has also worked to understand what worthy ends we should apply our political efforts toward. Alone, an orator like this can save a community from destruction if circumstances allow. In concert with others of the same ilk, an entire programme of civilizational renewal becomes a possibility.