Wendell Berry on personal responsibility

on January 4 | in Blog, Culture, Living | by | with No Comments

Many people champion personal responsibility when it is absent in others. But what about personal, personal responsibility? Writes Wendell Berry in his 1970 essay, “Think Little”:

While the government is ‘studying’ and funding and organizing its

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Wendell Berry [Image credit]

Big Thought nothing is being done. But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and, accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem. A man who is trying to live as a neighbor to his neighbors will have a lively and practical understanding of the work of peace and brotherhood and let there be no mistake about it–he is doing that work. A couple who make a good marriage, and raise healthy, morally competent children, are serving the world’s future more directly and surely than any political leader, though they never utter a public word. A good farmer who is dealing with the problem of soil erosion on an acre of ground has a sounder grasp of that problem and cares more about it as is probably doing more to solve it than any bureaucrat who is talking about it in general. A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the conservation movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.

From The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.


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