We stood last night on the University of Missouri campus for several hours to see and hear a man I believe will be our next president.
I believe him to be a good man, and wise in ways I’ve not known a politician to be for some decades. I will vote for him.
But I don’t expect him to be all things to all people. I do expect him to chose for a cabinet those who can do the most good for the most people. A president’s advisors probably exert a greater sum total of change in a four year reign than the president himself. Bush was not a good man for the job, his advisors in effect were even worse.
That being as it may, I wondered what Mr. Obama would do with the land ethic and agrarian economic philosophies of a man I admire more than I admire the democratic nominee. I think Wendell Berry’s vision of what can be right about our country demonstrates true wisdom.
We need wisdom in government at all levels–down to the level of households and communities. I hope we will see our future economy based on soil and rootedness to place. I love to imagine Wendell Berry as Secretary of Stewardship in an Obama administration.
For those of who don’t know Wendell Berry, this recent opinion piece (DallasNews.com) about the man’s intersection with contemporary American predicaments is well worth the read, from which the following excerpts
… to all appearances an old-time Democrat, his faithfulness to his iconoclastic vision makes him an uncomfortable presence among the mainstream left and has won him new admirers on the dissident right. He is a moralist hostile both to big government and big business. He is a Christian who can’t be understood apart from his deep religious conviction that humankind is under divine command to be good caretakers of creation – the land, its creatures and each other.
In the months and years to come, we all will have to learn the meaning of limits. Wendell Berry is no dour scold who preaches a joyless austerity. To the contrary, he tells us that what we truly seek in life is not comfort, but meaning – and that you don’t have to live a life of rigorous asceticism to find it. Rather, we only need to order our lives around the ancient idea that happiness depends on virtue – virtue lived in community. We can only be fulfilled by living within the bounds prescribed by our nature, and in fidelity not to our selfish desires but to the greater good of our families, friends and communities.