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  • What Are We Fighting For?


    It is election season and we can see the temperature rising. Many comments sections in social media circles have been heated to exhaustion by those battling with ideas that matter to them. Candidates set themselves forward for consideration and we discuss, debate, engage, and eventually vote. In the pressure cooker of pandemics and economic constraints we are lured into the fray. Politics and current events have a way of calling us out to join in and share our opinions. We want peace, but we are invited to fight for something. It is a paradox.

    Wendell Berry, celebrated American author and farmer, wrote about his own desire for peace in the midst of a battle. Over several decades he has written with wisdom about how we create peace, and how we fight for what matters. In a letter to a friend he wrote, “I see with considerable sorrow that I am not going to get done fighting and live at peace in anything like the simple way I once thought I would. So how to keep from becoming evil? Maybe the answer is to fight always for what you particularly love, not for abstractions and not against anything: don’t fight against even the devil, and don’t fight to ‘save the world.’” What a compelling observation.
    Years ago the search engine company Google said that their value was, “Don’t be evil.” In the midst of fighting for goals, Google saw, like Berry, the ever present risk of becoming the thing they hoped so deeply not to become. In the fight for what is best, they saw that they could do the worst. It is a paradox.
    What do we fight for? Berry believed that we should fight for what we particularly love. He believed that community was perhaps one of the things in this world that was worth it. It is something real, made up of people worthy of love, and it is the heartbeat of our world. He said, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” For Wendell Berry community is worth fighting for because it is where all good things happen and how we become human. 
    There is nothing abstract about community in the sense that we can see and talk to each other, we live near each other, and we have come to see that in many ways we need each other. In our efforts to fight for a better community we stand the risk of leaving a trail of destruction through the very community we need for our own wellbeing. 
    There is excitement in a fight, but there is wisdom in becoming people of peace. In an era of battle lines where peace may still be a long way off, we can imagine a community where peace reigns, and where our community is protected. Between families, homes, neighbourhoods and communities we can fight for peace. It might be the one thing actually worth fighting for.