Why not take a moment or two on this Wednesday in November and ask yourself the more complex and difficult question: What is my carrying capacity? How much can be taken or given without diminishing me? We can exploit or nurture the land just as we can exploit or nurture our very selves, or allow others to. This question has nothing to do with settling for less or doing something half-assed or being selfish. Those are quick, shallow reactions ill-suited for a question of complexity and difficulty (usually the reactions of an exploiter). No, the question has everything to do with, as Berry says, character, condition, quality, kind…in other words, the kind of person you were created to be in this world, the character you are meant to play in this grand drama called life.
I wrote recently of the brave people I see all around me. I also see just as many diminished lives, marriages, friendships, organizations, churches, schools, neighborhoods, and yes, even our nation (this is what the occupy movement, in my opinion, is all about). A complex and difficult question takes time to answer, maybe even a lifetime. Someone asked this particular question a few years before Wendell Berry wrote his masterpiece…you may have heard it –
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?