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Being wealthy doesn’t make Chouinard a better representative of the values that he shares with Berry, but recognizing that Berry is not alone and that these values can be brought into the wider world, if imperfectly, makes their embrace of limits and simplicity more compelling and their approach to life seem more possible for others.
Shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Wendell Berry wrote, “The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism the ended on that day.” This, I fear, was one of the rare times Mr. Berry missed the mark. Collective amnesia is an American strong suit.
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.