Wendell Berry on accepting local responsibility to affect change

By | August 12, 2012

Via this YouTube video:

I don’t think that I know anything that’s reducible to a last word. Our people like to trade in that kind of stuff, but it’s stuff. It really doesn’t amount too much.

What’s really interesting is the possibility that we humans can make sense. This is an issue, this is a formal issue [of] the greatest urgency and gravity. What are the conditions within which we human beings can make sense? Within what limits can our minds be effective?

I’ve been griping about this to some of my friends lately. We’ve had two generations of college-bred people now who have really been indoctrinated now that every big problem has a big solution, and I just don’t believe it. The big problems we have now are going to be solved, if they ever are solved, by hundreds of people accepting local responsibility for small problems. They ain’t never gonna get famous, they ain’t never gonna get tenured for this. But this is the way it has to work.

We’re not really very smart we humans. And the idea that someone could come up with a big solution to a big problem is always dangerous. It always come down to the simple, the simple solution. People who make simple solutions always make trouble. And they’re always surprised by the trouble they make.

So, to hell with the last words. Let’s try and make one sentence that’s rightly positioned within a manageable context so that we can utter it to somebody else and they’ll understand it. And then we would be on the way to define a job of work that we can actually do.


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