A Quieter Life for Wendell Berry

A Quieter Life Now

In an exchange of letters with a dear friend, Wendell Berry explains why his writing is only a small part of the movement against greed and waste.
 by Wendell Berry, Madhu Suri Prakash
posted Jun 29, 2011

YES! contributing editor Madhu Suri Prakash is a longtime friend of poet, essayist, novelist, activist, and farmer Wendell Berry. Inspired by changing attitudes among her college students, who were reading Berry, Madhu declared the Wendell Berry Era, and wrote to him, proposing that he write an open letter to President Obama calling for funding to establish new small farms. This correspondence ensued.

Dear Wendell,

Madhu Suri Prakash

Madhu Suri Prakash.

I have a dream; and, at its center, you stand—tall, humble, simply magnificent.
Despite all my reservations about writing to you, here I am, hours before dawn, doing something I could not even have dared to imagine only last evening.

I awoke with a dream long before the sun is scheduled to shine. In this dream, I join millions reading your open letter to the White House, courteously requesting $5 billion—a tiny pittance compared to the going rate for government bailouts—to regenerate 50 million family farms; $5 billion, in other words, that could support young people who have the gumption and sense of adventure necessary to grow food and sequester carbon in the soil; $5 billion that would allow American women, men, and their families a chance to eat and grow clean, uncontaminated, uncancerous food.

Your moral stature and vision are such that all you would have to do is write such an open letter to the president to more fully awaken millions; to start a groundswell.

My dream declared itself loud and clear as soon as I rolled out of bed—perhaps the time is right. It’s been a long time coming, Wendell. Your half-century-old patience, my dream declares, may finally be paying off. Your time, the Wendell Berry Era, has finally dawned. Hopefully.

to read more and see Wendell Berry’s reply, go to::    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/beyond-prisons/a-quieter-life-now