Friends, it is sometimes said, don’t talk to one another about politics. I beg to differ, but I add a requirement: friends can talk about politics if they behave themselves, talk to one another with civility, and carry on their conversation to learen from one another. So, welcome to this new series on Wendell Berry, Citizenship Papers. Questions are included, and they are serious questions.
Berry’s first essay in this book is called “A Citizen’s Response to ‘The National Security Strategy of the United States of America’.” It concerns the response to 9/11. And it advocates a uniform questioning of international policy.
It suggests that the “we” in the “we will not hesitate to act alone” is not “we the people” but “we, the President and his closest advisors.” Was the American public sufficiently consulted?
Berry contends that the definition being used (at the time, and still today) concerned “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents.” He suggests this definition: “violence perpetrated unexpectedly without the authorization of a national government” (3). How do you define terrorism?
He contends the NSC has demonized the enemy and lionized the USA. We have plenty of our own evils to deal with.
More to the point, he thinks there are self-defeating contradictions: peace through war and advocacy of globalization of the economy while we isolate ourselves in war. Can a lasting peace be accomplished as a result of military action? Is it true to say that military action leads to more military actions? Does military action lead to confidence in military action?
He advocates charity, civility, independence, true patriotism, and lawfulness.
And he contends that standing with Christianity implies pursuing peace, pursuing forgiveness, and pursuing love.