From the Chair: The world is a messy place
“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the waters, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of the wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.”
– Wendell Berry, American farmer and poet
I have two sons, Ryan and Justin, both of whom are in college and doing well in school. I wonder what they must think about the world – Columbine, World Trade Center, ecological devastation such confusion, hatred and greed. Will fear paralyze members of their generation?
I remember a letter my grandfather addressed to me the day I was born, welcoming me into the world but lamenting how his generation had misused science (opening the Pandora’s box of atomic weapons) and had so poorly struggled with accomplishing the goal of peace in the world. Grandad wrote that perhaps my generation could do a better job than his had done.
And I remember my father’s generation’s downside – assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, race riots in many of the large urban centers, wholesale pesticide poisoning of our country which prompted Rachel Carson’s voice out of the wilderness, and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev – backed by atomic and nuclear weapons – screaming to America: “we will bury you!”
The answer to our despair can’t be paralysis, can it?
In October the Nobel Peace Price was awarded to Kofi Annan from Ghana. He is the Secretary General of the United Nations who is almost uniformly praised for his revitalization of the U.N. and his role in dealing with crises around the globe in recent years. Mr. Annan was asked about the paralysis of fear: “The world is a messy place and unfortunately the messier it gets, the more we have to do.”
The world IS a messy place. But within the mess is beauty – like purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain, courage and compassion; children- like Ryan, Justin and yours; adults – like Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Kofi Annan. Within the messiness of the world is the grace of the world – to be inspired to move on and to exhibit courage and compassion we can “go and lie down where the great heron feeds, in the presence of still water” and/or talk and laugh with our children and/or put into practice the values that mean so much to us on this beautiful blue-green planet.