Some thoughts on articles by Wendell Berry, Byron Katie, and David Suzuki

What a diverse group of articles! I really felt that this week the articles we read all gave very different perspectives of ideas about both the Old Economy and the New Economy. While I cannot say that I agree with all of them, they were interesting reads nonetheless.
Starting with Byron Katie’s, “The World Doesn’t Need to be Saved,” I can understand where he is coming from, and yet struggle to get there myself. He essentially discusses taking your own thoughts captive and questioning them – particularly questioning fears you have. In the end, he insists you will find nothing to fear after all. I suppose the point of his article would be to give readers a bit of relief. It doesn’t take long after someone begins studying the environmental and economic crises that there is a huge amount of despair and hopelessness. It is true that we have gotten ourselves into a large conundrum, and there isn’t a simple answer. While I don’t think you can sit back and do nothing because the world doesn’t need saving, I think I can come away from this article encouraged to take a breath and tell myself it’s not all my responsibility to fix the environment.
David Suzuki’s article, “Measuring Progress with GDP is a Grave Mistake,” takes me back to the beginning of the crisis we are now in. In his article, he recognizes that something isn’t quite right. The way we measure success is actually an atrocity, causing us to only consider economics, and not social, spiritual, or any other aspect of wellbeing. There is not room for health, beauty, fixing things, and so forth, as they do not contribute to growth, and therefore do not increase GDP. In other words, Suzuki tells us that GDP has become our preoccupation, and any concern about “other aspects of life are seen as impediments.” While people, both from everyday as well as economists and social scientists, are looking for new ways to measure how well we are doing, there is a dire need to stop measuring progress with GDP and recognize there is more to holistic well being than economic security – if you can ever say that GDP indicates any kind of security to begin with.
Lastly, I read Wendell Berry’s, “Think Little.” For me, this article was far more on par with how I have understood the need for a New Economy. Berry walks us through the dangers of joining in a protest culture that refuses to take ownership of what they are protesting, and suggests that this is the time, in the height of the environmental crisis, where everyone must acknowledge their part in it. He also gives a course of action to take from there – unlike Katie’s suggestion to not try and save anything, or even Suzuki’s larger scale suggestion of a different measure for progress. Berry instead acknowledges how government and policy makers function, and that this can’t possibly be working, and suggests that we think little – start with ourselves, because that really is all we control – and do so as we “apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth” (Berry 89). At that point, he goes on to say, “we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds” (Berry 89). It is as we engage ourselves that change will begin, and it cannot begin merely in our minds, but we must engage and use both application and thought. I think Berry puts this approach well when he suggests that there is, “necessary change of thinking and feeling,” but then goes on to say, “and suggests the necessary work” (Berry 86). Berry insists that it is not just a mind shift, but that it demands personal action (albeit little actions) that will truly change and transform the world we see today.
While all three articles deal with having a new perspective and mind set, I believe Berry’s combination of both a perspective and an active change will prove to be most effective, and I am now left with not only how I must change my thoughts, but how that will effect my actions.