Wendell Berry: Help the environment; stop using the word “environment”.

The idea that we live in something called “the environment,” for instance, is utterly preposterous. This word came into use because of the pretentiousness of learned experts who were embarrassed by the religious associations of “Creation” and who thought “world” too mundane. But “environment” means that which surrounds or encircles us; it means a world separate from ourselves, outside us. The real state of things, of course, is far more complex and intimate and interesting than that. The world that environs us, that is around us, is also within us. We are made of it; we eat, drink, and breathe it; it is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. It is also a Creation, a holy mystery, made for and to some extent by creatures, some but by no means all of whom are humans. This world, this Creation, belongs in a limited sense to us, for we may rightfully require certain things of it–the things necessary to keep us fully alive as the kind of creature we are–but we also belong to it, and it makes certain rightful claims on us: that we care properly for it, that we leave it undiminished not just to our children but to all creatures who will live in it after us. None of this intimacy and responsibility is conveyed by the word environment…

Not only is this language incapable of giving a true description of our relation to the world; it is also academic, artificial, and pretentious. It is the sort of language used by a visiting expert who does not want the local people to ask any questions. (I am myself an anthropobiotheointerpenetrist and a gastrointeroenvironmentalist, but I am careful to say so only in the company of other experts.)

Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community, p. 34-35

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About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
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