Good Work

Quotes from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, edited and introduced by Norman Wirzba, (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2002)

Good Neighbors, by Peter Saville-Bradshaw, Saatchi Art

A man who is trying to live as a neighbor to his neighbors will have a lively and practical understanding of the work of peace and brotherhood, and let there be no mistake about it — he is doing that work. A couple who make a good marriage, and raise healthy, morally competent children, are serving the world’s future more directly and surely than any political leader, though they never utter a public word. A good farmer who is dealing with the problem of soil erosion on an acre of ground has a sounder grasp of that problem and cares more about it and is probably doing more to solve it than any bureaucrat who is talking about it in general. A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the [conservation] movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways. (87)


The ability to be good is not the ability to do nothing. It is not negative or passive. It is the ability to do something well — to do good work for good reasons. In order to be good you have to know how — and this knowing is vast, complex, humble and humbling; it is of the mind and of the hands, of neither alone. (299)


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