Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beware the justice of nature, says Wendell Berry

The words below from Wendell Berry inspire me. Wendell is the author of The Unsettling of America and many other books, and a guru of local food, ethical farming, and community. This passage was printed in the bulletin of a Charlotte church as part of their Earth Day celebration. A group of about 10 from the church flew out to Kentucky last month and met with Wendell for a couple of hours in his home, to hear his thoughts on environmental activism and local food. I wasn't in the group, but a couple of my friends were and they told me about the conversation. Wendell observed that environmental activism might be best practiced as a half-time job, to keep some sense of balance and well-being. He advised the visitors to spend some time every day doing something that brings "glee." To him, that might mean watching a nesting bird feed its young, or lying in the grass beside a pond enjoying the sights and sounds of the pond wildlife.

Here's what the church bulletin reprinted:

"And so, graduates, my advice to you is simply my hope for us all:
Beware the justice of Nature.
Understand that no amount of education can overcome the innate limits of human intelligence and responsibility. We are not smart enough or conscious enough or alert enough to work responsibly on a gigantic scale....
Learn, therefore, to prefer small-scale elegance and generosity to large-scale greed, crudity, and glamour.
Make a home. Help to make a community. Be loyal to what you have made.
Put the interest of the community first.
Love your neighbors - not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.
As far as you are able make your lives dependent upon your local place, neighborhood, and household - which thrive by care and generosity - and independent of the inudstrial economy, which thrives by damage.
Find work, if you can, that does no damage. Enjoy your work. Work well."

Wendell Berry, "The Futility of Global Thinking"

Keywords:: Wendell Berry community neighbors local food right living

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