rn: RE: Wendell Berry’s Thoughts In the Presence of Fear


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

Two long-time subscribers to this list sent in thoughtful comments re: the
Wendell Berry article. Both criticize it for failing to point out that the
reason behind the attacks of Sept. 11 is more complex than simply our
society's addiction to consumerism, technological fixes and violent security
measures. Both remind us that it is important to point out that whoever is
directing US (indeed Western) foreign policy is more to blame than are
ordinary citizens.

I agree with the criticisms and yet I still feel the Wendell Berry article
is excellent.

I think it is imperative that we contribute to the "intellectual
self-defence" against swallowing the lies we know are being spread via the
mainstream media. 

On one level, the intellectual self-defence must include some serious
thought about who would ultimately be responsible for the terrorist attacks
and who is controling US foreign policy, indeed the whole war scenario we
find ourselves in. (Cf. the next posting I am sending to this list.) 

But on a most basic level, we must defend ourselves against the idea that
peace and justice will be achieved be "eliminating" those who are warlike
and unjust. We must, as Berry does, point out that our whole society is
warlike and unjust and that the first step to building peace and justice is
to start right at home, not just with our own governments, but most
essentially, with our own communities. Indeed, in order to eliminate
violence and injustice, we would probably have to eliminate each and every
person, for who among us has never done anything unfair or violent? ... On
the other hand, I affirm something Gandhi apparently said, that each of us
has a piece of the truth. Quakers put it this way, that there is that of God
in each of us. As we become more peaceful and loving as individuals, we
become better able to bring forth the "truth", the good, in ourselves and
others. ... Our goal is transformed from trying to "eliminate" evil, to
trying to get at its roots, and redirect that energy towards good. 

I realize this sounds "theological" but I'm old enough now to see that
spiritual growth is possible and necessary.

Following the comments on the Wendell Berry article, I'm copying one of
several letters or messages I have been sending out locally, which try to
reach people more "where they are at" rather than try to transmit my own
conviction that our leaders are culpable in the terrorism, for I know all
too well that it takes more time than one gets in a letter-to-the-editor to
communicate that idea!

all the best, Jan
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 22:46:56 -0300
To: •••@••.•••
From: earthsea <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: rn: Wendell Berry: Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

While Berry's analysis is compelling, it does rest on the assumption that
those in significant power give a fig for individual freedoms other than
their freedom to aquire more wealth and power at any cost. Their freedom is
provided and maintained by their wealh and power. Very circular, very
impervious to moral persuasion. I note recent research indicating alleged
business dealings between the Bush and bin Laden family businesses*, in
support of my wonderings.

The march of globalzation depends, in part, upon the errosion of state
authority and individual democratic influence and real freedom of choice.
9/11/01 may just tighten the noose we all find ourselves in. One has to
wonder how unexpected the situation really is in some quarters.

I fear that there is every good possibility that we haven't seen the enemy
because, Pogo notwithstanding, the enemy isn't us. "We" may have been and
continue to be more in the nature of pawns or unwitting shills in a very
high-stakes game.

I'm aware that this is not a novel "insight" and acceptance does leave one
prey to both spurious conspiritorial theories and those who promulgate
same, and to "Matrix"-like views of the world which can instill
hopelessness and apathy.

My personal hope is that the situation will engender a tidal-wave of
activism at so many levels that the fun-house mirrors will shatter. Beyond
that I don't know, only that it would be better to live in the truth of our
situation than in the existing ambiguity.


David Cameron
*Bush family's dirty little secret: President's oil companies funded by Bin
Laden family and wealthy Saudis who financed Osama bin Laden  By Rick Wiles
Copyright: American Freedom News September 2001

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 20:25:45 -0400
From: Carl Chatski <•••@••.•••>
cc: <•••@••.•••>,
Subject: Re: rn: Wendell Berry: Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

This article, fails to distinguish between capitalism and technology and
thus looses a lot of its value, and sinks into new-ageism.

The reality of what we are seeing in the world is not a terrorist
fight-back against imperialism.. but a capitalism failing to evolve to a
socialism.. transitioning to an even franker fascism.  We will not make
progress against this unless we indentify it and oppose it.  The Osama's
and the Talibans are the creation of imperialism, and are controlled by
it, while it is villified in the media.

The 911 events are a Reichstag Fire stemming from very deep systemic

The call for 'peace' has never worked in the past and will be ineffecive
now.  IMHO we must explain the alternative possible futures.. and demand
the right to create a future which will leave no ones needs unmet.. and
unleash the creativity of the human race... and be organized
'outside in'.. confederations of local groups and no central authorities

 - Carl

Dear Editor,

After the bombing on September 11 a number of musicians who were stranded in
Alberta decided to hold a special benefit concert. Someone asked one
musician, Jann Arden, if she felt it was appropriate to hold a concert so
soon after the tragedy. She replied, essentially, that whoever had done this
terrorist act was hoping people would hunker down with their guns out and
lead a kind of khaki-coloured existence, that it was vital for us to affirm
life at this time.

Her answer illustrates beautifully the wide range of choice we have in the
face of any setback or tragedy. 

Apparently, after meeting with President Bush, Prime Minister Chrétien said
the terrorist cells could be anywhere and that we ought to watch our
neighbours, for one never knows... It is indeed true that terrorists and
torturers can lead otherwise apparently normal lives. But the best way to
fight terror is to build up caring communities, communities which are so
life-affirming that hatred can't grow. During WW II, the Nazis invaded
Denmark but never succeeded in implementing the kind of terror there that
they did elsewhere; Nazis sent to Denmark got "co-opted" to some degree and
weren't able to be really "good" Nazis. 

This is what we should aim for here. Let's get to know and appreciate our
neighbours... And by the way, I really appreciate something Chrétien did
recently; apparently he spoke out to make sure a display of Muslim art
scheduled to open in the Capital region went ahead as planned, depite a
suggestion it be put off because of recent events.

Sincerely, Jan Slakov, President, Enviro-Clare, box 35, Weymouth, NS B0W 3T0