When it comes to being solidly grounded, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better role model than Wendell Berry.
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It’s the immemorial feelings
I like the best: hunger, thirst,
their satisfaction; work-weariness,
earned rest; the falling again
from loneliness to love;
the green growth the mind takes
from the pastures in March;
The gayety in the stride
of a good team of Belgian mares
that seems to shudder from me
through all my ancestry.
—From Wendell Berry New Collected Poems
Grandma and Grandpa had achieved their threescore years and ten and more; their strength had become labor and sorrow. The life they had lived, the old season-governed life of the country, was passing away as they watched. No threshing machine or threshing crew would come to their place again, and there would be no more big strawstacks for a boy to climb up and slide down. The combines had arrived, their service to be purchased by mere money.
—From “A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership”
As a teacher, I reject absolutely the notion that a man may best serve his country by serving in the army. As a teacher, I try to suggest to my students the possibility of a life that is full and conscious and responsible and I am no longer able to believe that such a life can either lead to war or serve the ends of war.
As a father, I must look at my son, and I must as if there is anything I possess —any right, any piece of property, any comfort, any joy—that I would ask him to die to permit me to keep. I must ask if I believe that it would be meaningful—after his mother and I have loved each other and begotten him and loved him—for him to die in a lump with a number hanging around his neck.
From “A Statement Against the War in Vietnam,” in “The Long-Legged House”
All excerpts with permission of the author.