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Virtues of RenewalWendell Berry's Sustainable Forms$
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Jeffrey Bilbro

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813176406

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813176406.001.0001

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(p.81) 4 Hope
Virtues of Renewal

Jeffrey Bilbro

University Press of Kentucky

Climate change discourse trades in complex statistical models that, in general, offer gloomy prognostications of inevitable disaster. The problems appear so complicated that our only hope seems to lie in massive engineering solutions that might alter global weather patterns or extract tons of garbage from our oceans. This discourse of statistics and big data either makes it seem as though individuals cannot do anything to affect the problems and hence leads to pessimism, or it optimistically implies that we don’t need to do anything because technocrats can fix the problems for us. Berry’s essays, however, sharply distinguish between optimism—which is an industrial trait founded on the belief that technological progress will continue to make our lives better—and hope—which is a virtue founded on specific examples of good work and good lives. He offers particular examples of locally adapted good work that can support authentic hope: the artist Harlan Hubbard, the poet William Carlos Williams, the farming communities of the Amish. While individual examples may seem inadequate to the scale of global problems, Michel de Certeau argues that the everyday practices these people and communities model have the power to subvert unjust systems.

Keywords:   hope, optimism, essays, Harlan Hubbard, William Carlos Williams, Amish, Shakespeare, King Lear, Michel de Certeau

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