I ask another question: what are the conditions for human flourishing? That is another way into these weeks together, listening and learning as we are to this Kentucky farmer and father, husband to his wife and husbander of his land, the one that serious critics call “the most serious essayist in America today.” To press the point, this week I had them read Berry’s essay, “Two Economies,” in which he makes the argument that there are always two economies at work. Lesser economies and a Greater Economy, the former being the economy of a small town or a large city, of a small business or a global corporation, of a state or of a nation; and the latter being the way things are, whether we like them that way, or want them that way, or prefer them that way. The “Greater Economy” is one we don’t get to choose, because it is reality, the way the world really is.Twined in and through these two weeks are other lenses: the 75-year Harvard University study on men, and what matters most for human happiness; Pixar’s “Cars” film, and the slow realization of Lightening McQueen that people and place are critically important, even and especially for cars; and my work with the Mars Corporation and its Economics of Mutuality, a serious effort to rethink the global marketplace, believing that a more complex bottom line accounting for people and planet, as well as profit, is crucial for a company that wants to make money into the future.Simply said, I want my students to wrestle with the hardest questions. Is anything “meant” to be? Can we really know if anything is “supposed” to be? Can we honestly say that something “ought” to be? I want them to see that human beings as human beings are always using these words; we cannot not. There is something about the world itself that requires it.
Learning about Life from Wendell Berry | The Washington Institute