I love Wendell Berry’s quotes, though I have yet to read any of his literature. This one captures the excruciating experience of Cambodia. Living in a city that is tirelessly changing, literally sprinting towards the “ideals of affluence, comfort, mobility, and leisure”.  It’s an indefinite pursuit of new coffee shops and shopping centres, of restaurants and hotels.

It all feels a bit like a bubble sometimes. A bubble that will burst. Cause bubbles can’t float around forever. And in the midst of it, there is the squalor. The age old conundrums of social class and religious values. Of hierarchy. Of poverty right next to mind numbing wealth.

Sometimes it’s all a bit hard to digest.

Weakness of character

One possibility is just to tag along with the fantasists in government and industry who would have us believe that we can pursue our ideals of affluence, comfort, mobility, and leisure indefinitely. This curious faith is predicated on the notion that we will soon develop unlimited new sources of energy: domestic oil fields, shale oil, gasified coal, nuclear power, solar energy, and so on. This is fantastical because the basic cause of the energy crisis is not scarcity; it is moral ignorance and weakness of character. 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.

Wendell Berry
The Unsettling of America (1977)


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