Wendell Berry -There are no sacred and unsacred places
Wendell Berry is an author, poet, farmer, husband, father, grandfather and activist.
Feb 8, 2018
We are blessed in the first part of the 21st century to still have a handful of elders with us whom, if we listen to them, can show us the way to protect and care for our beautiful earth and pass its stewardship on to future generations. Some of those I refer to are E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dorothy Maclean, Joanna Macy, David Attenborough and Wendell Berry.
Their missions are varied, but their message is essentially the same. They have studied and loved the earth in their various fields of expertise, and all of them carry a sense of the seriousness of the time we’re living in. We’re at a crossroads as a human race, and it is of the utmost importance that a shift occur in humanity’s perception of the planet and our relationship to it. Great destruction has occurred to the oceans and forests, species have gone or are going extinct, and because of pesticides and herbicides, many of the pollinators are in peril. Since the 1950s awareness has increased but the damage seems to be escalating. We have a window of time to reverse some of the damage for the sake of future generations.
Wendell Berry is an author, poet, farmer, husband, father, grandfather and activist. His life has been spent writing, growing crops, raising a family while living in a community, and speaking out about various issues when his conscience felt called. His observations are potent without being strident. One senses that he is a man of thought and prayer.
There is a wonderful essay that serves as introduction to a collection of his poems, This Day, Collected and New Sabbath Poems 1979-2013. Here is an excerpt:
In 2017 the Sundance Film Festival featured a documentary directed by Laura Dunn, about the life and work of Wendell Berry, entitled Look and See. Featured in the movie were clips of his speeches in the 70s, speaking on behalf of farmers and the preservation of small farms. He reminded us then that not only crops are grown on farms, but families, and communities, and the feeling of pride from raising food for one’s own family and for others. There were interviews in the film with farmers who attempted to follow the recommendation of 1970s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, to shift the scale of farming to a business for profit model. Rather than preserving a way of life with time to be with their hands in the soil and seeds, farmers planted and harvested gigantic tracts of land, using expensive equipment. The love of farming was replaced with sleepless nights worrying about paying back bank loans, management of labor, and slim profit margins despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been invested. This kind of farming still exists today and has increased the mentality of land as commodity rather than land as an ally and partner.
In the film Look and See, Mr. Berry’s daughter spoke during an interview about the fact that the town where she grew up was now a shadow of its former self. The small farms had been squeezed out and sold off, and people were forced to move. Now the town has no grocery store, and many of the other businesses closed. Similar things have happened all over rural America.
From the introduction to This Day, Collected and New Sabbath Poems 1979-2013:
And regarding the word “wild”:
Wendell Berry is in his eighties. He and his wife Tanya of sixty years, have lived on their farm in Kentucky since 1965. He has authored thirty some books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, as well as responding to the call of worthy causes from time to time. As recently as 2011 he and a group of 14 activists were locked into the Kentucky governor’s office for a weekend, demanding an end to mountaintop removal.
Posted by Kimmy Sophia Brown
Photo of Wendell Berry by Guy Mendes - Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
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