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A View of Wendell Berry

Updated on February 14, 2018
MSantana profile image

She loves to write about science, the natural world and peoples questions about life. She has degrees in Biology, botany and Ecology.

A joyful picture of Wendell Berry.  Salud Mr. Berry! Wendell Berry (left) and Lonnie Gamble(right) from prof. Gambled's website
A joyful picture of Wendell Berry. Salud Mr. Berry! Wendell Berry (left) and Lonnie Gamble(right) from prof. Gambled's website

Wendel Berry was a not too far away, he was reading from ‘Andy Catlett’ his last book (Counterpoint LLC). Wendel Berry’s words were not unfamiliar perhaps, because, Weldell’s presence is anything but unfamiliar. From his selection for the evening his character, exposed some of the realities of war times. He experienced for the first time, the expansion of his world when he traveled abroad. Along that, he learned that war involved things such as: learning to kill, confronting death, deciding upon the lives of others—be it an enemy soldier or a civilian. War as he experienced it, was a process, which caused dramatic changes inside and outside himself. War changed itself, without the soldier having time to adapt. Thus war keep changing and in the process it changes all the peoples involved. War changed the soldier very essence, his body, his mind, the sense of who he was...

Any war veteran can tell you stories about how war influenced, destroyed, or changed the meaning of his or her life. War is one of the most impacting things a human being can experience. Yet, as it is viewed from each individual perspective, it is very hard for outsiders to understand.

Being in a war causes a person's conflicting values to surface. He may wonder: What does it mean to fight for a nation? What does it mean to kill a child? As he observes others being killed, buildings being blown up, and witness how the environment around him is being destroyed...he feels but hopeless at times. Facing death, and the human fragility, made him aware of what it means to be a human. A human much alike those on the other side of the firing line, and much like those waiting for him back home.

Wendel Berry was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak of courage the central theme of the 2009, Wisconsin Book Festival. But he also spoke about the connection between people and the land. His choosing of a war topic may have surprised many people who expected his words to lean heavily towards the connection with the land. His presence, however, is a symbol of that human-land connection. But, perhaps Berry wanted to tell the audience ‘Do not forget about the war’. This country is in war. There are many men and women, who are sent away in the name of this nation. These people would be changed in a drastic ways, perhaps in a a way similar to what Andy Catlett experienced.

Berry’s choice and talk was a reminder of the interconnections. It was humanity at its best. It was a reminder of the fragility of that we call life. It was Wendell Berry after all!

Wendel Berry is one of our greatest literary and human treasures--Bill Mckibben

© 2009 MSantana


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