CLIMATE CHANGE FEATURE: Wendell Berry, The Art of Leadership

Today, I’m launching my first blog on leadership and climate change, looking for what we can do to make a difference, even now as we see the harsh realities we have created. I’m beginning with a poem by Wendell Berry, a writer who speaks plainly and eloquently to teach us the core leadership values we need to heal the land.
Wendell Berry on his farm in Henry County, KY. Photo, Guy Mendez

Wendell Berry on his farm in Henry County, KY. Photo, Guy Mendez

Here, we can see the simplicity and clarity needed, as we step forward as leaders in small and large arenas, to reconnect with the earth we have maimed by human neglect, overdevelopment and pollution:  This land responds to good treatment. Can we begin that work now, can we lead by listening to the land we walk on, depend on? Can we extend that heartfelt leadership to our families, our community, our colleagues, and awaken the connections that will heal ourselves as well? I hope so!

 

XI
by Wendell Berry

The need comes on me now
to speak across the years
to those who finally will live here
after the present ruin, in the absence
of most of my kind who by now
are dead, or have given their minds
to machines and become strange,
“over-qualified” for the hard
handwork that must be done
to remake, so far as humans
can remake, all that humans
have unmade. To you, whoever
you may be, I say: Come,
meaning to stay. Come,
willing to learn what this place,
like no other, will ask of you
and your children, if you mean
to stay. “This land responds
to good treatment,” I heard
my father say time and again
in his passion to renew, to make
whole, what ill use had broken.
And so to you, whose lives
taken from the life of this place
I cannot foretell, I say:
Come, and treat it well.

“XI” by Wendell Berry from This Day. © Counterpoint Press, 2013.

Wendell Berry  is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written dozens of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry has been named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

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