A brief note from Wendell Berry to Barack Obama

Barack Obama, in Berlin: “I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.” [My emphasis. – NPO]

Wendell Berry in “Fidelity”, in “The Body and the Earth”, in The Agrarian Basis for an Authentic Culture, part III of The Art of the Commonplace: “[O]ne cannot become [ . . .] a ‘world citizen.’ There can be no such thing as a ‘global village.’ No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in a some small part of it.”

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4 Responses

  1. I would suggest that you have missed the point and this is an example of taking artistic license with contextual excerpts.

    Senator Obama, from his quote, is tendering that he is no different from the people of Berlin simply because he is a candidate for the presidency of the USA. Rather, he is offering that citizenship of the world is possible by doing exactly what Mr. Berry contends, living fully in it by living responsibly in a small part of it. If all the world, from Berlin to Johannesburg, Seattle to Abu Dhabi, took responsibility for their little corner of the globe, together the sum of the many parts would create a “global village” that one could maintain “world citizenship” within.

  2. 1. Thanks for stopping by Nathancontramundi and commenting! Always nice to have fresh blood.

    2. You make a reasonably compelling point and, I think, you comprehend exactly what Mr. Berry means. However, I am hesitant to accede to it because, if for no other reasons, further rhetoric on Senator Obama’s part, and his patent willingness to involve the United States in the affairs of other nations, and to extend our military presence in other places, both lead me to fear that he espouses the same liberal interventionist perspective (Call it Wilsonian, if you will.) that stands in contradistinction to the localism professed by Mr. Berry of Kentucky. Cheers!

  3. 1. You’re welcome, glad to be here.

    2. I, too, am concerned about Senator Obama’s desire to intervene in the affairs of other nations. However, his doing so would not be out of character for any president since McKinley…not that this should be construed as a rubber stamp for his or anyone else’s actions. I would welcome a president who entertained the notion that “acting locally” could contribute to “global harmony.” Still, you have to have the entire globe engage in this attitude and I believe that Senator Obama’s comment is an invitation to, not only Germany, but people of all nations to adopt this course of action.

  4. Well, I’m not that you’re right, but I I do hope so! I think we can both agree on the need for such an attitude, as opposed to the one espoused by Bush, as I indicate in “A brief note from Wendell Berry to George W. Bush”.

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