Salt Box Farm

Photo: Salt Box Farm, Westford Massachusetts

Bill Morton’s comment on my last blog is gratefully received because it re-introduced me to Wendell Berry, who in Bill’s words might be a “modern-day Thoreau.”

Wendell is a poet and farmer who believes:

“There is no time in history, since white occupation began in America, that any sane and thoughtful person would want to go back to, because that history so far has been unsatisfactory. It has been unsatisfactory for the simple reason that we haven’t produced stable communities well adapted to their places.”

This is a sweeping, unmitigated statement, but it also has the ring of truth to it. Global warming, world hunger and war start at home.

Berry is issuing a challenge to all the towns and cities of America. Can we come together and plan our destiny or will we continue to have it thrust upon us?

We tell each other that business is war, and business is so important — it produces the life blood of the family and community after all — money. So business must come first. Business and death come first. Death to our enemies, business for our money.

If our community includes Christians and Jews, Muslims and Hindus, rich and not so, how can we come together and plan a stable community?

Yet we must. At some point we must do this.

What would a stable community include? Lots of things I guess and among these would be a farm.

Here’s a link to an interview with Wendell Berry that Bill posted in his comment.

Here’s a Berry poem that pin points one of our most vexing problems:

In this World

The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,

tilts into the valley. The clovers and tall grasses

are in bloom. Along the foot of the hill

dark floodwater moves down the river.

The sun sets. Ahead of nightfall the birds sing.

I have climbed up to water the horses

and now sit and rest, high on the hillside,

letting the day gather and pass. Below me

cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands,

slow and preoccupied as stars. In this world

men are making plans, wearing themselves out,

spending their lives, in order to kill each other.”

Featured comment: hgebeaux writes: “I read this post and I feel so sad. The question – “can we come together” – in my view is answered “NO.” Man so such a selfish and self-centered and basically evil creature that no amount of coming together is possible.” See his comments for more…

I suggest that we tend to our own backyard. Gandhi taught, “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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