Farmer and author Wendell Berry describes such giving in his novel Hannah Coulter — describing the dynamic of the story’s Kentuckian community:
“Work was freely given in exchange for work freely given. There was no bookkeeping, no accounting, no settling up. What you owed was considered paid when you had done what needed doing. Every account was paid in full by the understanding that when we were needed we would go, and when we had need the others, or enough of them, would come.”
In the small Kentucky village of Berry’s novel, we see the essence of a conservative solution: a care outside of oneself, a giving and edification of one’s family, community, and place. It exemplifies the epitomé of building something beautiful — the manifestation of conservatism well done. More explicitly, we might call this giving the virtue of charity, synonymous with love. Aquinas calls charity a type of friendship, ultimately “the friendship of man for God” (ST II-II, 23, I), but so too a sharing in life with others, a joint pursuit of the good.
Charity, and thus human flourishing, is contingent upon our relationships with others, of preserving and edifying those bonds and institutions that give life meaning. As Wendell Berry states: “A human community, then, if it is to last long, must exert a sort of centripetal force, holding local soil and local memory in place.”
Read all of "Wendell Berry, Beauty, and the Future of Conservatism" by Samul Samson at The Texas Horn.