An excerpt from an interview with Mr. Berry in November 2010:
Thomas Healy: …You talk and write about this notion of being in community and what that means on a very fundamental level. It’s not something abstract, it’s palpable. It’s libraries and parks, it’s fertile soil, it’s clean air, it’s potable water. It’s a liveliness that comes about from human intentions to gather together and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy that company within an environment. That’s also a degraded concept.
Wendell Berry: These things you mentioned are gifts. Whether you’re an atheist or a religious person you have to see that they are gifts in the sense in that we couldn’t have made them. And they are moreover good gifts to the extent that they’ve allowed us to live and be healthy—to the extent that pollution and degradation permit us still to be healthy. But the atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle – those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn’t make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn’t live without them. And we are extraordinarily guilty, industrial society as a whole, is guilty of not receiving them as good gifts or respecting them as gifts, but instead degrading and wasting and destroying them. We are, in the midst of all this goodness, destroying the world.