In Wendell Berry s Life is a Miracle, the idea that major changes need to be made within society is argued for with examples of ignorance and propriety. For us to understand what for Wendell Berry is arguing, we must first understand the definitions of both ignorance and propriety; Ignorance is pretending to have knowledge where we do not, and propriety is conforming in action and speech to what is socially acceptable. When responding to Berry, we must look inwards, give our interpretations of his beliefs, and understand the way they mesh together. Ignorant is a great word for the state of modern science.
What better a word exists for summarizing contemporary science s habit of drunkenly preaching just to stroke the media? Is there no better word for society s willingness to accept every theory that is spewed from the mouth of anyone with a P. H. D as fact solely because, after sufficient stroking, the media ejaculates indigo onto paper to christen it so? There is only one word as or more fitting: propriety. Our societies current idea of propriety names individuals as the blind, and some sick psuedo-marriage of science and the media is the one-eyed man.
We all know that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. This is a problem by itself but even worse, is the fact that, this king programs us from the beginning to just smile for the cameras and nod for the scientists as they fornicate with TV and the internet to get their next grant. However, time makes some pictures become so sharp that even the blind can make out a vague image. It takes just one frame, even a scratched and blurry one, to make us aware that something isn t right.
So, how does society deal with this? We go and ask the scientists for shiny new technology and better theories and then beg the media for better coverage of the whole damn thing. Why? Because we are afraid of diverting too far from our programmed ideas of propriety; it is a whole lot easier to follow the accepted norm than to ask questions and think independently. Also, we want to keep faith in the dollar, the (New York) Times, and the holy megabyte. All of this accomplishes nothing, for there to be any forward progress society needs to break away from currently accepted norms. We need to redefine what our culture sees as proper.
Society needs to look far back into it s past and find a cultural idea that brings things to an understandable level. We need to step aside from science and the media so as we can see clearly what propriety actually means. Currently, our society pushes technological advancement and the media pushes scientific theory into something accepted as true. We must put away the belief that selfishness and greed it the way to go. By destroying our surroundings and relinquishing any responsibility to the quality of life of those around us, we have proven that we urgently need to re-think our entire system.
No one person is the most important person in the world. If you look around right this moment you will see that, while most people agree with this statement, very few actually live by it. If everyone set out in life to make other people happy, the world would be a wonderful place. The world needs to slow the hell down. Many people spend their entire existence moving around in an attempt to collect riches. As a society, we generally never stay in one place long enough to form a sense of belonging and therefore pride.
Money has become the sole measure of success. Things have gotten so bad that the only way for us to be able ask the right questions and learn to slow the hell down may be a full or at least a very large collapse of society. That would allow people to learn to care again. It would allow people to forget selfishness and greed. It could instead teach us to actually live. Not a perfect world with a flawless society, but instead an improved world with a HUMAN society. Not free of evil but able to deal with it.
Life is a miracle is a very powerful essay with some slightly extreme ideas. It hasn t really changed my beliefs and values, but has helped me learn how to put them into understandable and organized ideas. The best way to approach the essay is with an open mind, it teaches you about yourself and your society. The essay is also helping me form ideas and opinions that I probably wouldn t have otherwise. Life is a miracle is really forcing me to open myself up and question my beliefs and things that I had accepted as true just because.