I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.
The more local and settled a culture, the better it stays put, the less the damage. It is the foreigner whose road of excess leads to a desert... a man with a machine and inadequate culture... is a pestilence. He shakes more than he can hold.
One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.
There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.
There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.
We must see that it is foolish, sinful and suicidal to destroy the health of nature for the sake of an economy that is really not an economy at all but merely a financial system, one that is unnatural, undemocratic, sacrilegious, and ephemeral.
The rule, acknowledged or not, seems to be that if we have great power we must use it. We would use a steam shovel to pick up a dime. We have experts who can prove there is no other way to do it.
The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
Finally from the crease of the ravine I am following, there begins to come the trickling and splashing of water. There is a great restfulness in the sounds these small streams make; they are going down as fast as they can, but their sound seem leisurely and idle, as if produced like gemstones with the greatest patience and care.
A protest meeting on the issue of environmental abuse is not a convocation of accusers, it is a convocation of the guilty. The realization ought to clear the smog of self-righteousness that has always conventionally hovered over these occasions, and let us see the work that is to be done.
And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.
Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.
But our waste problem is not the fault only of producers. It is the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom-a symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom-and all of us are involved in it.
We don't have a right to ask whether we're going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what's the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?
No wonder so many sermons are devoted exclusively to spiritual subjects. If one is living by the tithes of history's most destructive economy, then the disembodiment of the soul becomes the chief of worldly conveniences.
There's nothing under the ground that's worth more than the little layer of topsoil sitting on top of it.
The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful.
The shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betray Creation. They are wastes of life.
After a while, though the grief did not go away from us, it grew quiet. What had seemed a storm wailing through the entire darkness seemed to come in at last and lie down.
It was a country ... that he and his people had known how to use and abuse, but not how to preserve.
This massive ascendancy of corporate power over democratic process is probably the most ominous development since the end of World War II, and for the most part the free world seems to be regarding it as merely normal.
True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One's inner voices become audible... In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.
There are not enough rich and powerful people to consume the whole world; for that, the rich and powerful need the help of countless ordinary people.
Prayer is like lying awake at night, afraid, with your head under the cover, hearing only the beating of your own heart. It is like a bird that has blundered down the flue and is caught indoors and flutters at the windowpanes. It is like standing a long time on a cold day, knocking at a shut door.
I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children; who has undertaken to cherish it and do it no damage, not because he is duty-bound, but because he loves the world and loves his children.
Returning from the wilderness a man becomes a restorer of order, a preserver. He sees the truth, recognizes his true heir, honors his forbears and his heritage, and gives his blessing to his successors. He embodies the passing of human time, living and dying within the human limits of grief and joy.
It's kind of alarming for me to realize that, when I'm writing stories about times I remember, it's already historical fiction.
Today, local economies are being destroyed by the 'pluralistic,' displaced, global economy, which has no respect for what works in a locality. The global economy is built on the principle that one place can be exploited, even destroyed, for the sake of another place.
A man's life is always dealing with permanence, that is the most dangerous kind of irresponsibility is to think of your doings as temporary.
It is only by understanding the cultural complexity and largeness of the concept of agriculture that we can see the threatening diminishments implied by the term 'agribusiness.'
I would consider myself simply a critic of the market economy. My standard isn't primarily political. First of all, it's ecological. And then I get to matters that are social and cultural.
A liberal education rests on the assumption that nature and human nature do not change very much or very fast and that one therefore needs to understand the past.
Action can only be understood in relation to place; only by staying in place can the imagination conceive or understand action in terms of consequence, of cause and effect. The meaning of action in time is inseparable from its meaning in place.
We can make ourselves whole only by accepting our partiality, by living within our limits, by being humans not by trying to be gods.
No individual life is an end in itself. One can live fully only by participating fully in the succession of the generations, in death as well as in life. Some would say (and I am one of them) that we can live fully only by making ourselves answerable to the claims of eternity as to those of time.
It is a horrible fact that we can read in the daily paper, without interrupting our breakfast, numerical reckonings of death and destruction that ought to break our hearts or scare us out of our wits.
Annual plants are nature's emergency medical service, seeded in sounds and scars to hold the land until the perennial cover is re-established.
What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being.
At the window he sits and looks out, musing on the river, a little brown hen duck paddling upstream among the windwaves close to the far bank. What he has understood lies behind him like a road in the woods. He is a wilderness looking out at the wild.
This country would always be populated with presences and absences, presences of absences, the living and the dead. The world as it is would always be a reminder of the world that was, and of the world that is to come.
Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world's beauty and abundance.
It is possible, I think, to say that... a Christian agriculture is formed upon the understanding that it is sinful for people to misuse or destroy what they did not make. The Creation is a unique, irreplaceable gift, therefore to be used with humility, respect, and skill.
The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass.
We cannot know the whole truth, which belongs to God alone, but our task nevertheless is to seek to know what is true.
We cannot know the whole truth, which belongs to God alone, but our task nevertheless is to seek to know what is true. And if we offend gravely enough against what we know to be true, as by failing badly enough to deal affectionately and responsibly with our land and our neighbors, truth will retaliate with ugliness, poverty, and disease.
The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.
I believe until fairly recently our destructions of nature were more or less unwitting -- the by-products, so to speak, of our ignorance or weakness or depravity. It is our present principled and elaborately rationalized rape and plunder of the natural world that is a new thing under the sun.
I'd had the idea, once, that if I could get the chance before I died I would read all the good books there were. Now I began to see that I wasn't apt to make it. This disappointed me, for I really wanted to read them all.
Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health.
Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health--and create profitable diseases and dependences--by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving.
If you grow a garden you are going to shed some sweat, and you are going to spend some time bent over; you will experience some aches and pains. But it is in the willingness to accept this discomfort that we strike the most telling blow against the power plants and what they represent.
Physical health doesn't exist apart from the health of other things. Health ultimately involves the community, and the community ultimately involves the place and natural life of that place, so that real health is harmony with the world.
The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand. Every puddle in the lane is ringed with sipping butterflied that fly up in flutter when you walk past in the late morning on your way to get the mail.
The only true and effective operator's manual for spaceship earth is not a book that any human will ever write; it is hundreds of thousands of local cultures.
We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibilities that have been turned over to governments, corporations, and specialists, and put those fragments back together again in our own minds and in our families and household and neighborhoods.
In losing stewardship we lose fellowship; we become outcasts from the great neighborhood of creation.
Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind's
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.
We weren't allowing our hopes to become expectations. Expectations are tempting, pleasant, maybe necessary. They are scary too, once you have had some experience. They are not necessarily and not always a bucket of smoke, but they can be and are even likely to be.
The wrecking ball is characteristic of our way with materials. We 'cannot afford' to log a forest selectively, to mine without destroying topography, or to farm without catastrophic soil erosion. A production-oriented economy can indeed live in this way, but only so long as production lasts.
We need to confront honestly the issue of scale... You may need a large corporation to run an airline or to manufacture cars, but you don't need a large corporation to raise a chicken or a hog. You don't need a large corporation to process local food or local timber and market it locally.
Akin to the idea that time is money is the concept, less spoken but as commonly assumed, that we may be adequately represented by money. The giving of money has thus become our characteristic virtue. But to give is not to do. The money is given in lieu of action, thought, care, time.
In living in the world by his own will and skill, the stupidest peasant or tribesman is more competent than the most intelligent worker or technician or intellectual in a society of specialists.
The question before me, now that I am old, is not how to be dead, which I know from enough practice, but how to be alive, as these worn hills still tell, and some paintings of Paul Cezanne, and this mere singing wren, who thinks he's alive forever, this instant, and may be.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
The Christian gospel is a summons to peace, calling for justice beyond anger, mercy beyond justice, forgiveness beyond mercy, love beyond forgiveness.
Our destruction of nature is not just bad stewardship, or stupid economics, or a betrayal of family responsibility; it is the most horrid blasphemy. It is flinging God's gifts into His face, as if they were of no worth beyond that assigned to them by our destruction of them.
Our model citizen is a sophisticate who, before puberty, understands how to produce a baby, but who at the age of thirty will not know how to produce a potato.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
I knew what he was doing. He was walking away from his thoughts but his thoughts were staying with him.
My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed. And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.
As industrial technology advances and enlarges, and in the process assumes greater social, economic, and political force, it carries people away from where they belong by history, culture, deeds, association, and affection.
We don't know how to use energy or what to use it for. And we cannot restrain ourselves. Our time is characterized as much by the abuse and waste of human energy as it is by the abuse and waste of fossil fuel energy.
The road is a word, conceived elsewhere and laid across the country in the wound prepared for it: a word made concrete and thrust among us.
The river and the garden have been the foundations of my economy here. Of the two I have liked the river best. It is wonderful to have the duty of being on the river the first and last thing every day. I have loved it even in the rain. Sometimes I have loved it most in the rain.
A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us.
Men may dam it and say that they have made a lake, but it will still be a river. It will keep its nature and bide its time, like a caged animal alert for the slightest opening. In time, it will have its way; the dam, like the ancient cliffs, will be carried away piecemeal in the currents.
Charity even for one person does not make sense except in terms of an effort to love all Creation in response to the Creator's love for it.
Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.
The only time I've been arrested was in opposing the Marble Hill nuclear power plant in Indiana. That was in 1979.
It is understood that nonhuman creatures adapt to their places or they don't live. And for some reason that I can't figure out, even the biologists have excused our own species from that obligation. I think there's going to be a biological penalty to be paid for that eventually.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.
You cannot affirm the power plant and condemn the smokestack, or affirm the smoke and condemn the cough.
People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.
Let us have the candor to acknowledge that what we call the economy or the free market is less and less distinguishable from warfare.
When you have large-scale legitimated violence in a place that is divided as profoundly and bitterly as Kentucky was, the legitimate violence can cause illegitimate violence, a terrible local heartlessness and cruelty that feeds on itself and goes on and on.
The uplands of my home country in north central Kentucky are sloping and easily eroded, dependent for safekeeping upon year-round cover of perennial plants.
It has always taken me a long time to think of something to say, and then more often than not I say it to myself.
Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.
All right, every day ain't going to be the best day of your life, don't worry about that. If you stick to it you hold the possibility open that you will have better days.
These are people who are capable of devotion, public devotion, to justice. They meant what they said and every day that passes, they mean it more.
Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
The primary motive for good care and good use of the land-community is always going to be affection, which is too often lacking.
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.
I prayed like a man walking in a forest at night, feeling his way with his hands, at each step fearing to fall into pure bottomlessness forever. Prayer is like lying awake at night, afraid, with your head under the cover, hearing only the beating of your own heart.
Urban conservationists may feel entitled to be unconcerned about food production because they are not farmers. But they can't be let off so easily, for they are all farming by proxy.
If I was freer than I had ever been in my life, I was not yet entirely free, for I still hung on to an idea that had been set deep in me by all my schooling so far: I was a bright boy and I ought to make something out of myself... something else that would be a cut or two above my humble origins.
An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security that they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment.
The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle -- those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn't make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn't live without them.
The two great aims of industrialism -- replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy -- seem close to fulfillment.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief... For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The fertility cycle is a cycle entirely of living creatures passing again and again through birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay.
The old and honorable idea of 'vocation' is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted.
We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.
To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.
To hear of a thousand deaths in war is terrible, and we 'know' that it is. But as it registers on our hearts, it is not more terrible than one death fully imagined.
Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.