Prompt 1

Jun 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog

“Be joyful/though you have considered all the facts.”
This line from Wendell Berry’s poem not only offered a sense of relief by mentioning the possibility to find joy amongst fact, but it also conveyed the somewhat disheartening realization that fact does not always (or even mostly?) lead to joyfulness. Ideally, I like to think that being exposed to and learning new facts would make one happy (because learning is supposed to be fun, right?). However, thinking about some of the facts that I’ve learned over the course of my existence, the ones that don’t provide joy, the ones that make hope and happiness feel unattainable, seem to stick. After all, how can someone be happy knowing that the icebergs are melting too quickly and polar bears are dying? Would that make us socially irresponsible people? Berry demands, in that particular line of his manifesto, that people should learn the facts and contemplate them, yet remain joyful. How does one remain joyful? Maybe partly, at least to start, joy from fact can be obtained by considering facts that provide happiness rather than sadness. Little tiny seeds grow into delicious vegetables. Fish’s gills extract oxygen from water so that they can live. Life is pretty unbelievable. Then maybe by internalizing some of life’s incredible facts, we can learn to be joyful as we consider all the facts.
I truly wish Wendell Berry had given a suggestion on how to comply to his command.

3 Comments to “Prompt 1”

  1. Megan Cousino says:

    Hi Ali!

    Your post really resonated with me. Many times I have thought about the concept of how we are able to be happy with so many bad things happening in the world. It seems like everyday we just hear about more horrible things happening. With so much bad, how can we remain joyful?

    But then I also think about hope and passion. Would their be hope and passion without joy? Would their be change without hope and passion? So I think part of what Berry is saying we need remain joyful to keep our hope and passion to make the changes. And with those feelings, we will be able to decrease the rate of climate change and save the polar bears!

    I also really like your call on Berry in the end for a suggestion on how to comply to his command. It is easy to say something needs to occur, but it takes true skill to provide a means to actually do it!

  2. Eliza Margolin says:

    Ali, I love and totally agree with your point about paying attention to the happy/wonderful facts about the world. It’s impossible to ignore the negative facts, but by putting more emphasis on the uplifting ones, we can tease out reasons to be joyful.

  3. Mandy Kwan says:

    Hi Alison,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, it is tough to be joyful, when the facts are sad. I think when a fact is sad, we can use that to be hopeful and to think about the future. What can we change knowing that fact? For example, when I found out that there are many places in the world that do not compost, it made me think of possible ways of introducing it.

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