January 29, 2007

Enjoyment & Shame

Category: Ethics,Feasting :: Permalink

Wendell Berry on enjoying good things even though you know others are suffering:

The solemnity and ostentatious grief of some implies that there is a mystical equation by which one man, by suffering enough guilt, by a denial of joy, can atone or compensate for the suffering of many men.  The logical culmination of this feeling is self-incineration, which only removes one from the problem without solving it.  Because so many are hungry, should we weep as we eat?  No child will grow fat on our tears.  But to eat, taking whatever satisfaction it gives us, and then to turn again to the problem of how to make it possible for another to eat, to undertake to cleanse ourselves of the great wastefulness of our society, to seek alternatives in our own lives to our people’s thoughtless squandering of the world’s goods — that promises a solution.  That many are cold and the world is full of hate does not mean that one should stand in the snow for shame or refrain from making love.  To refuse to admit decent and harmless pleasures freely into one’s own life is as wrong as to deny them to someone else.  It impoverishes and darkens the world. — “Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Conscience in Honor of Don Pratt,” The Long Legged House, pp. 82-83.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:10 pm | Discuss (0)

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