Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wendell Berry's "Questionnaire"

 WanderLost: Wendell Berry

How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy

In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security;
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill. 

~You can hear this piece, by Wendell Berry, the eminent Henry County, Kentucky, farmer-poet-agrarian philosopher, (photo above) read in inimitable love-it-or-hate-it style by Garrison Keillor, pre-cancel culture, via this public radio link to his "Writer's Almanac."  I learned of this through a Front Porch Republic link on the American Solidarity Party. I learned of this movement based on distributism, in the spirit of Dorothy Day, Mennonites, Catholic Worker or a "consistent life ethic" through grassroots non-sectarian organization. And that finally came through this "weird" article in the NY Times my friend alerted me to.

In turn, FPR updates the poem for the "pseudo choice, a choice that is no real choice at all."

~FPR deigns that "Wendell Berry’s provocative 'Questionnaire' might be put into prose and updated for the 2020 election with these new, dismal choices:
  1. What is your preferred method of killing babies: abortion, pollution, or ICE detention?
  2. Do you want the US to pursue endless wars abroad, or do you want the president to lurch spasmodically into and out of conflicts?
  3. Do you want the US to respond to climate change with head-in-the-sand denialism, or do you want a Green New Deal that would empower our federal government to manage the entire economy?
  4. Do you want the national debt to grow quickly or very quickly?
  5. Do you want to fund our medical bureaucracy through private insurance companies that extort more money from you each year in premiums and other fees, or do you prefer to be a helpless pawn in a vast, government-run healthcare system?
  6. Do you want free trade with countries that put their citizens in re-education camps, or do you want the US to impose tariffs in haphazard fashion on various foreign countries? (Alternatively, you might prefer to leave moralizing about foreign governments to NBA players and the successors to Steve Jobs.)
  7. Do you want the president to use Christianity as a cover for his racism and misogyny, or should the president tax all churches and nonprofits whose theology he disagrees with?
  8. Do you want the president to be a blatant nepotist and hire his children, or do you want the president to rely on foreign governments to enrich his children?
  9. Should the president get interest groups and foreign governments to patronize his businesses while in office, or should the president wait until after his term of service to receive scads of money from foreign governments and corporate executives? 
Me: Yeah, I know that "unprecedented events, uncertain times, unanticipated challenges etc." all upturn the world as we knew it again, since this was revamped last November. But the choices appear the dismal same, with the incumbent vs. the blue-state's safe corporate mouthpiece. For better or worse, latter party chose to reject a more radical choice, and here we are, another election with the lesser of two evils insisting he cares about us, every 4 years.

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