The Little Things

First, I want to thank those of you who have left encouraging comments over the last few days and weeks. Blogger is giving me trouble and won’t allow me to post comments on my own posts, so I can’t leave replies to each one. Let me say here: Thank you! I’ve needed the encouragement.

Next, I have some words from Wendell Berry. Steve bought The Unsettling of America for me for my birthday and I’ve been reading a little bit each night. Berry wrote the book in 1977 and it is interesting to see that in some ways the agricultural and ecological situation in this country has gotten worse, while in other ways it has improved.

For example, Berry says: “The first, and best know, hazard of the specialist system is that is produces specialists–people who are elaborately and expensively trained to one thing…Even worse, a system of specialization requires the abdication to specialists of various competences and responsibilities that were once personal and universal. Thus, the average–one is tempted to say, the ideal–American citizen now consigns the problem of food production to agriculturists and “agribusinessmen”…At suppertime he may eat a tray of ready-prepared food, which he and his wife (also a certified expert) procure at the cost only of money, transportation, and the pushing of a button.”

Perhaps it is just the circle I run in, but I do not think that the ideal American citizen eats microwave dinners anymore. We know the importance of healthy, fresh eating. However, we still have a huge problem to overcome: time. We could grow gardens, bake bread, shop at the farmer’s market, sprout beans and seeds, shop at the thrift store, mend clothes, raise chickens, and so on, but the time demanded of us at our “specialized” jobs is too much to allow for such food production and resource saving activities. Therefore, we have high-priced organic cafes and, yes, pre-packaged meals, to make us feel better about our choices.

Still, if we can even bake a few things for ourselves, patronize the farmer’s market once a month, mend that favorite pair of jeans, and resist buying one luxury we know we don’t need, we will have done something to change the tide. Even a change in our attitudes can begin to change our world.

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