In reading Wendell Berry’s first essay a great deal is revealed about how he perceives the changing world and the growing economy. For me, one of the biggest local practices that we as Americans have lost is the ability to be self sufficient and capable of living off the land. This basic ability, which has been passed down for centuries has in recent years been lost to an ever evolving and developing world where technology and corporations are taking over what was one family tradition.
Wendell Berry in his essay explains that many of the local practices our ancestors all practiced have disappeared. Large scale business and trade have increased the ease and convenience of acquiring goods, and people have sold their self sustainability for ease and simplicity. Now when people need vegetables or meat, they simply drive down the road to the Kroger or Walmart and buy everything they need. When the car that we use breaks down or has issues, we simply use our cell phones to call a towing service which takes the vehicle to a repair shop and we simply pay to have specialists fix it. All over, we have lost our abilities to do many of the simple tasks for living. Our society has become one of incredible precision and specialization, where even medicine is broken into millions of specialized fields and common house hold doctors are becoming a thing of the past.
In understanding the skill of being self sufficient, one has to look at all the uses it has in making our lives livable. Being able to grow your own food for example is a very crucial part of being able to survive. Few people today know all the complex factors of gardening for example. It’s not as simple as putting seeds in the ground, as many would believe. Everything from soil PH to the amount of light to even the water amount and plants around your garden all play a pivotal role in properly growing food. When you are hungry or need a particular food item you simply go outside to get it. Another key concept is being able to repair things yourself. Whenever your car breaks down or you need to change a part of your home, knowing how to apply the mechanics and carpentry is truly a valuable skill.
The problem in our society today is that we are becoming more and more dependent on outside sources and we are no longer capable of living on our own. This fact is becoming more apparent even on a larger scale, where countries on a global scale are exchanging goods. Exporting and importing different products now makes it so that countries are now dependent on each other. The aspect of globalization, which is praised by so many has negative affects as well. Wendell Berry highlights various problems in our changing world, and it is clear the ability to “do it yourself” is something of the past.