Monday, December 19, 2005

The Craft of Community

I've got people in every corner of my life pushing Wendell Berry on me, so I started reading his Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. Here's his take on the subversion of community by a world full of people who prefer a private life but whose public life persists. The setup for this comment was the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas--as public a process as something gets. It's hard to think of community as something other than public life or a confederation of private lives, but I suppose that only shows how far we've drifted from the craft of community. Let me know what you think.

Community life is by definition a life of cooperation and responsibility.
Private life and public life, without the disciplines of community interest,
necessarily gravitate toward competition and exploitation. As private life casts
off all community restraints in the interest of economic exploitation or
ambition or self-realization or whatever, the communal supports of public life
also and by the same stroke are undercut, and public life becomes simply the
arena of unrestrained private ambition and greed.

1 comment:

Kami Rice said...

Glad you've discovered Berry, too! These issues of community, real community, are so intriguing to me personally and so significant to our current seasons of society. Berry is on to some good things, for sure.

As I probably mentioned in my Vine panel talk, my book study read Berry's Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community and then followed it immediately by reading Fidelity, a collection of his short stories. It was a great combination...a chance to read his ideas/thoughts directly and then have those thoughts illustrated in the communities created in his short stories.