I'm Having Wendell Berry's Dream

I keep coming back to Wendell Berry's poems, and I don't think it's just because I have a book full of them in my bathroom.

After all, there's an extensive library in the ol' Barkey Throne Room, and unlike Berry's poetry, a lot of the books have pretty pictureswhich make for easy reading as I'm completing my digestive process.

And yet...

I find myself endlessly re-reading Berry's poem The Dream, and I think it's because in it he brilliantly calls out both the Big Problem, as well as the reason any solution is bound to sputter.

Check it out...

The Dream

    I dream an inescapable dream
in which I take away from the country
the bridges and roads, the fences, the strung wires,
ourselves, all we have built and dug and hollowed out,
our flocks and herds, our droves of machines.

     I restore then the wide-branching trees.
I see growing over the land and shading it
the great trunks and crowns of the first forest.
I am aware of the rattling of their branches,
the lichened channels of their bark, the saps
of the ground flowing upward to their darkness.
Like the afterimage of a light that only by not
looking can be seen, I glimpse the country as it was.
All its beings belong wholly to it.  They flourish
in dying as in being born.  It is the life of its deaths.

     I must end, always, by replacing
our beginning there, ourselves and our blades,
the flowing in of history, putting back what I took away,
trying always with the same pain of foreknowledge
to build all that we have built, but destroy nothing.

     My hands weakening, I feel on all sides blindness
growing in the land on its peering bulbous stalks.
I see that my mind is not good enough.
I see that I am eager to own the earth and to own men.
I find in my mouth a bitter taste of money,
a gaping syllable I can neither swallow nor spit out.
I see all that we have ruined in order to have, all
that was owned for a lifetime to be destroyed forever.

    Where are the sleeps that escape such dreams? 

Now, I'm not saying there aren't real filthy dirtbags out there who we oughtta be resisting like mad (there are: hashtag RESIST), but unless my resistance begins with the realization that I am in fact a part of the problem*, I'm afraid I'll only ever be a finger-pointing virtue-signaler.

It's awesome to be Right and Virtuous and also Smarter Than Those Idiots I Disagree With, but if my goal is to actually change someone's mind (rather than merely demonstrate the vast moral discrepancy between us), then I've got to start with humility.

Righteous anger without humility always leads to the pendulum swing, killing violence of revolution.

- - -

*An admittedly small part, given my relative inability to, say, cause genocides.


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