only the present good is good

[more from Wendell Berry, on giving up on “saving the world” and doing what is good for right now]:

Or maybe we could give up on saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II. If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophecies of doom. On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present. Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter  what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people.

…. Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good – good work,good thoughts, good acts, good places – by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.

– Wendell Berry, from “On Being Asked for ‘A Narrative for the Future‘” in Our Only World: Ten Essays

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