Re(2): Why is 'literature' important in the college of Agriculture?
My thoughts closely follow those of 'rgalloway.' Most of us want to be good at
what we do, and we want to make a contribution to our profession, vocation,
interest or passion. I think it is difficult to be a contributor without the
knowledge that allows us to place our interests in an holistic context.
I've had the good fortune to be involved in a number of pursuits -- care of
the aging, agriculture, journalism, advocacy, speechwriting and even a stint
as an executive in a government agency. This doesn't make me an expert on much
of anything, but it has given me the chance to work with a wide variety of
people -- all the way from elected statewide officials up to housekeepers in a
nursing home. To paraphrase Eric Sevaried (sp?), every profession has its
winners, its losers and a whole bunch in between. What I have noticed about
the winners in all those professions I've dabbled with is that they are able
to place their work in a context that extends beyond the profession. I'll
never forget a porter in the nursing home where I worked who reported to me a
vicious fight between two nursing aides, both of whom were miserable about
their condition in life. The porter said, "You know, them two oughta read a
little John Steinbeck just to see how real bad off folks can get."
On the other hand, I've worked with statewide officials who are now in prison
because they thougt the world began and ended inside their tax-supported
Literature allows us to escape the ordinary, to explore ourselves and other
people, to become acquainted with ideas not found in our towns and offices.
Anyone who pursues agriculture without attempting to understand the role of
food production in the human condition, who doesn't understand the link
between what goes on the farm and what runs off the farm, who isn't at least
exposed to such literate agricultural thinkers as Wendell Berry, whether
agreeing or not, probably won't get more out of the profession than a pay
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