The last thing we will consider is altering our own behavior—because, surely, someone else is at fault. The Oil Companies, the Saudis, Dick Cheney—anyone but me. As has been described by Jason Peters, editor of a fine volume on Berry, it’s like heavy traffic. Heavy traffic is always other people. When you say “traffic was terrible,” you’re never talking about yourself.
Wendell Berry asks us to understand how we are a cause of the terrible traffic we complain about. His basic argument is that we must become more thoughtful about what we are doing. We must seek to understand the ways in which we are ourselves complicit in bad work, and seek to avoid that complicity where possible and, better still, to do good work instead. He does not advise withdrawal from the world, but full and active engagement in it. He fully acknowledges that we are technological creatures: to survive and thrive we must use nature. But again, “we must know both how to use and how to care for what we use.”
I'm going to have to be careful here before I start throwing stones, since this is the story of my life. But let me give a couple of examples of how I have seen this and even been party to it.
"We're having trouble in our marriage," not "I'm nagging him to death," or "I'm a lazy slob who expects her to wait on me hand and foot."
"We're having financial trouble," not "you know, maybe it wasn't such a good idea for me to buy that boat after all."
"Our church has problems," not "I and my fellow church members come to church with a consumeristic mindset every Sunday and expect to have it our way," or "my own leadership failures have led to lots of the problems we are now experiencing."
Other examples anyone?