Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wendell Berry: 10 Hopes (Commencement Address)

In 1989, Wendell Berry delivered a Commencement Address at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine that included not Ten Commandments but ten hopes. They are as follows (I highlight the ones that I feel are particularly applicable to the arts):


  1. Beware the justice of Nature.
  2. Understand that there can be no successful human economy apart from Nature or in defiance of Nature.
  3. Understand that no amount of education can overcome the innate limits of human intelligence and responsibility. We are not smart enough or conscious enough or alert enough to work responsibly on a gigantic scale.
  4. In making things always bigger and more centralized, we make them both more vulnerable in themselves and more dangerous to everything else. Learn, therefore, to prefer small-scale elegance and generosity to large-scale greed, crudity, and glamour.
  5. Make a home. Help to make a community. Be loyal to what you have made.
  6. Put the interest of the community first.
  7. Love your neighbors–not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.
  8. Love this miraculous world that we did not make, that is a gift to us.
  9. As far as you are able make your lives dependent upon your local place, neighborhood, and household–which thrive by care and generosity–and independent of the industrial economy, which thrives by damage.
  10. Find work, if you can, that does no damage. Enjoy your work. Work well.

4 comments:

Cole Matson said...

I've become more convinced in the past few years that there is value in the parish system of church, as opposed to the "church-shopping" system in which a person moves around to find a church that meets the criteria on their checklist (nice choir, good young adults' program, etc.) - or worse, moves around from week to week, and never actually settles down with a community. In the parish system, you worship, serve, and eat with the people who live around you, not just your fellow hipsters at the cool hipster church that you found (that's a half-hour drive away). The parish system is about building and serving a community; the "church-shopping" system is (often) about consuming a particular "brand". (Indeed, many churches talk about how best to "market" their "brand" of church.) As in the church world, so in the theatre world: The choice is often between community or consumerism.

Lawler said...

Wendell Berry is wise -- and one of the finest American writers of our time. Thanks for posting this, Scott

Oliver Tad said...

I've enjoyed seeing #4 in many of the artists I've met and known. It always seems to be more about the adventures they took to get to where they are that was more exciting. The glitz and the glam never held much weight in them; Thus those stories were so much shorter!

Andrew Utter said...

Great list.

In my neighborhood cafe, there is a list of tips for living from the Dalai Lama. One of my favorites is "Remember that the best relationships are those in which our love for the other is greater than our need for the other."