The Crisis in America


Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America brought up three convincing arguments over the ecological crisis that America is experiencing and why it’s failing. Specifically, Berry mentioned a crisis of character, agriculture and culture. In my opinion, all three are intertwined that make one huge mess of a nation that we have to try and fix.

To begin, Berry described how the problems began. It all started when “the concept of country, homeland, and dwelling place becomes simplified as ‘the environment’, that is, what surrounds us” (Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, pp. 22). Once Americans started seeing the earth as just a part of the world or as what is “surrounding us”, a division was instantly created between it and ourselves. The problem here is that our nation and us are one, we create each other, depend on each other, literally pass through one another. We cannot make it without each other, it is not possible. Berry said it best when he stated, “All who are living as neighbors here, human and plant and animal, are part of one another, and so cannot possibly flourish alone”(Berry, pp. 22). When the world started thinking our home is just the environment, the world started declining and still is. None of our problems can be solved until we all transform our characters to think the way we used to. Of course, this would mean a lot of work, but it is not something that we can make others do. Rather, “the use of the world is a personal matter, and the world can be preserved in health only by the forbearance and care of a multitude of others…Organizations may promote this sort of forbearance and care, but they cannot provide it” (Berry, pp. 26). Therefore, as much as we try personally to care for nature, we can’t do it alone and sadly, the people in the world seem to be unconcerned with it.

Berry seemed to make the crisis of character his strongest argument, but the other two fall in line right behind it. Actually, Berry almost creates a  true slippery slope as he explains the next two parts. Since America obviously needs a reality check, their culture and agriculture is also being affected negatively as well. Food is a cultural product and it cannot be produced solely by technology. However, our culture, as technical as it is becoming, fails to realize that. Big businesses and such only see dollar signs, so they aren’t concerned that they are changing our ways of life. And not just mine and yours, but every farmer, planter and  gardener that there is. Life will not be the same for them anymore. That affects culture and agriculture as well. I can remember when I used to pick up bales of hay by hand with my family because that was the only way we knew how. Now, I see nothing but tractors and hay balers all around that do all the work for you. I agree with Berry, where is this world headed? Eventually, the nation’s problems will be too big to defeat. If we stay at this rate, you’re looking at unemployment rates shooting through the roof and a world that is so selfish, it will no longer be called “the land of the free.” What a sad day that will be.

Berry, Wendell. The Unsettling of America. Sierra Book Clubs. San Francisco, 1997.



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One Comment to

“The Crisis in America”

  1. January 19th, 2014 at 7:37 pm      Reply vanessa158 Says:

    I agree that all three arguments have a connection with each other. I believe that they feed off of each other and that is why there is a crisis in all three areas.

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