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Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet

series: Moyers & Company

air date: 11/29/13 8:00 PM

Wendell Berry, a quiet and humble man, has become an outspoken advocate for revolution. He urges immediate action as he mourns how America has turned its back on the land and rejected Jeffersonian principles of respect for the environment and sustainable agriculture. Berry warns, "People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us." In a rare television interview, this visionary, author - and farmer - discusses a sensible, but no-compromise plan to save the Earth. In an encore Moyers & Company broadcast (check local listings), Bill Moyers profiles this passionate advocate, a man of the land and one of America's most influential writers, whose prolific career includes more than forty books of poetry, novels, short stories, and essays. This one-on-one conversation was taped at Kentucky's St. Catharine College during a two-day celebrating Wendell Berry's life and ideas and marking the 35th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book, The Unsettling of America. Berry, described by environmental activist Bill McKibben as "a prophet of responsibility," lives and works on the Kentucky farm where his family has tilled the soil for 200 years. He's a man of action as well as words. In 2011, he joined a four-day sit-in at the Kentucky governor's office to protest mountaintop mining, a brutally destructive method of extracting coal. Moyers explores Berry's views on civil disobedience as well as his strong opposition to agribusiness and massive industrial farms, as well as his support for sustainable farming and the local food movement. "It's mighty hard right now to think of anything that's precious that isn't endangered," Berry tells Moyers. "There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts. We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it." Also on the broadcast, Bill presents the short documentary Dance of the Honey Bee. Narrated by Bill McKibben, the film takes a look at the determined, beautiful and vital role honey bees play in preserving life, as well as the threats bees face from a rapidly changing landscape. "Not only are we dependent on the honey bee for much of what we eat," says Bill, "there is, of course, a grace and elegance they bring to the natural world that would diminish us all were they to disappear."

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