For Quinones, the twin opioid and meth epidemics have their origins in the destruction of community. The decline of local institutions creates a vacuum of isolation and hopelessness in which drugs can gain a foothold, despite all efforts to keep them out. Reading The Least of Us, one is struck again and again by the seeming futility of efforts to solve the drug problem by limiting the available supply of illicit substances.
Lana Del Rey. Wendell Berry. Stephen King. Singer-songwriter. Poet-novelist-essayist farmer. Horror writer. What brings these three seemingly disparate artists together in my imagination? Hope.
Our trees are unlikely to make a measurable difference in global carbon dioxide levels, and they will not do anything to hasten the end of the coronavirus pandemic, but according to Wendell Berry, these facts have nothing to do whatsoever with whether or not our decision to plant trees is, as Kerstin declared, good.
Scialabba insists that our actions are meritorious and good if they are effective, if they transform society and lead to measurable improvements. Berry, on the other hand, upholds love as its own standard: human lives are good insofar as they participate in divine love’s redemptive work.
Progressives must re-learn to advocate for community self-determination, and work to link political activity on this level to national politics.
Three years ago, I could not imagine Ron Paul winning the CPAC straw poll. Now he has. The doom and gloom evoked by the rich and powerful are realities in a fallen world, but we should not fail to think about the good.