What Are People For?
WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR? reflects Wendell Berry’s belief that we are all responsible for the welfare of planet Earth. Berry, a university professor and Kentucky farmer, defends America’s rural landscape and its farmers at a time when it seems to him that only economists and agribusiness dictate the way in which the land is to be used--and more frequently, according to Berry, abused. Many of the essays in this collection not only examine individuals’ relationship to the land on which they live, and from which they at least indirectly take their nourishment, but also call for a personal commitment of time and energy to stopping the damage that is done in the name of “progress.”
Berry fears that most Americans have lost their connection to the land on which they live; this self-imposed ignorance both worries and angers him. Berry writes with a strong, forceful voice: These essays clearly reflect his personality and his unflagging dedication to the land. Some of the solutions he offers exemplify his love of simplicity and his desire to remain close to the land; he explains that he will not use a word processor because it would consume more energy than the tool it would replace, the pencil. To use such a machine would only add to the energy and resource drain already imposed on the planet. Berry also examine the work of writers and philosophers such as Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner, whom he admires, and in several essays he explores the nature of writing.
Readers interested in environmental issues, natural history, or the politics of farming will find Berry’s essays thought-provoking, timely, and challenging in their approach to issues central to the contemporary American way of life.