Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Busting the categories
I've been reading more in Wendell Berry's book Sex, Economy, Freedom, & Community and I just love how, in a way similar to Jim Wallis, he busts the usual categories of liberal and conservative. In an essay entitled "Peaceableness Toward Enemies" he decries both the environmental and societal ravages of the military-industrial complex (liberal) and the decline of traditional rural and family values (conservative) and actually draws a connection between the two. Here's an example of his label-defying views. He's writing about the first Iraq War back in the early nineties, but his words are equally applicable today:

"The war has been seized on as evidence that "America is not in decline." And there has been more talk of "the world's highest standard of living", "the world's biggest gross national product", "the world's most influential and powerful country". Much of this talk about our power and wealth is, of course, true, but it is also true that we are in decline. Our wealth is great, but our economy has been seriously damaged by the greed, selfishness, and shortsightedness that have become its ruling principles. Our power is great, but in spite of its vaunted precision, it is applied more and more ruthlessly and clumsily. We are increasingly making this a nation of peace, security, and freedom for the rich. We are at present completing the economic destruction of our rural and agricultural communities. We are destroying our farmlands, our forests, our water sources. We are polluting the air, the water, the land. We have almost done away with the private ownership of usable property and with small, private economic enterprises of all kinds. Our professions have become greedy, unscrupulous, and unaffordable. Our factory products are shoddy and overpriced.

If we are the most wealthy and powerful country in the world, we are also the most wasteful, of both nature and of humanity. This society is making life extremely difficult for the unwealthy and unpowerful: children, old people, women (especially wives and mothers), country people, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless. We are failing in marriage and failing our family responsibilities. The number of single-parent households is increasing. Our children are ill raised and ill taught. We are trying - and predictably failing - to replace parenthood and home life with "day care" and with school. Our highways, shopping malls, nursing homes, and day-care centers are full; the homeless are everywhere in our streets; our homes are empty. We are suffering many kinds of damage from sexual promiscuity. We are addicted to drugs, to TV, and to gasoline. Violence is literally everywhere. While we waged war abroad, an undeclared civil war was being fought every day in our streets, our homes, our workplaces, and our classrooms. And none of these problems can be corrected merely by wealth, power, and technology. The world's most powerful military force cannot help at all."
posted by Mike Clawson at 12:30 AM | Permalink |


At 7/26/2005 01:58:00 AM, Anonymous Troy


That quote is as insightful and truthful as it is biting. But, then again, the truth hurts, eh?

Thanks for sharing that.


P.S. I hope your job search goes well.


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