I have a dream; and, at its center, you stand– tall, humble, simply magnificent. Despite all my reservations about writing to you, here I am, hours before dawn, doing something that I could not even have dared to imagine only last evening.
I awoke with a dream long before the sun is scheduled to shine. In this dream, I join millions reading your open letter to the White House, courteously requesting $5 billion– a tiny pittance compared to the going rate for government bailouts– to regenerate 50 million family farms; $5 billion, in other words, that could support young people who have the gumption and a sense of adventure necessary to grow food and sequester carbon in the soil; $5 billion that would allow American women, men, and their families a chance to eat and grow clean, uncontaminated, uncancerous food.
Your moral stature and vision are such that all you would have to do is write such an open letter to the president to more fully awaken millions; to start a groundswell.
My dream declared itself loud and clear as soon as I rolled out of bed– perhaps the time is right. It’s been a long time coming, Wendell. Your half-century-old patience, my dream declares, may finally be paying off. Your time, the Wendell Berry Era, has finally dawned. Hopefully.
People might now be ready to embrace your vision, holding it close to their hearts while abandoning the illusions foisted upon us by recent elections and by corporate admen and those in cahoots with them. My dream declares boldly that not only your grassroots fans in the millions are ready to savor your wisdom, but that others, who may not have heard of you nor studied your writings, are world-weary of hokey hope and industrial illusions, and are ready as well. We find ourselves genuinely scared of the triple crises of climate collapse, resource depletion, and inequality, which we have all colluded in creating, and, at long last, are able to hear your words with an openness to surprise.
Your long patience with all of us during the past half-century reminds me of the 50-year-old patience of Gandhi. Gandhi had a dream of walking unarmed towards Ahimsa freedom, symbolize by taking back from the Empire India’s salt– the original birthright of its people. Gandhi’s tiny coterie of conspirators marching to the ocean to harvest their salt was the most powerful 20th-century gesture of the powerless spurning brute force.
If Hindus in the heyday of the British global economy could exercise the audacity of harvesting salt by the side of their beloved Gandhi, then what stops us from shaking off the shackles with which Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, and their governmental gang bind us? What stops us from harvesting our own food, nourishing our communities, audaciously enjoying the pleasures of eating?
Wendell, it is clearly outrageous of me to ask anything of you over and above the many gifts you have brought into my life. Following in your footsteps, learning lessons given to us by many of your loving fans– including the likes of Ivan Illich, Michael Pollan, and Barbara Kingsolver– I find myself still very compelled to write to you from my small world.
The time has come to listen to you and your kindred spirits.
Your era is our era.
We are ready.
Madhu Suri Prakash, contributing editor of Yes Magazine. Wendell Berry is farmer, activist, novelist, essayist, poet. This is transposed from the Summer issue of Yes! Magazine. Other stories and an overview of the issue of Yes! can be found on their website: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/beyond-prisons or twitter.com/