Wendell Berry, letter to the editor

I don’t think “global thinking” is futile, I think it is impossible. You can’t think about what you don’t know and nobody knows this planet. Some people know a little about a few small parts of it…The people who think globally do so by abstractly and statistically reducing the globe to quantities. Political tyrants and industrial exploiters have done this most successfully. Their concepts and their green are abstract and their abstractions lead with terrifying directness and simplicity to acts that are invariably destructive. If you want to do good and preserving acts you must think and act locally. The effort to do good acts gives the global game away. You can’t do a good act that is global…a good act, to be good must be acceptable to what Alexander Pope called “the genius of the place”. This calls for local knowledge, local skills, and local love that virtually none of us has, and that none of us can get by thinking globally. We can get it only by a local fidelity that we would have to maintain through several lifetimes…I don’t wish to be loved by people who don’t know me .

 

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