p91...But then it must be asked if we can remove cultural value from one part of our lives without destroying it also in other parts. Can we justify secrecy, lying and burglary in our so-called intelligence organizations and yet preserve openness, honesty, and devotion to principle in the rest of government? Can we subsidize mayhem in the military establishment and yet have peace, order, and respect for human life in the city streets? Can we degrade all forms of essential work and yet expect arts and graces to flourish on weekends? And can we ignore all questions of value on the farm and yet have them answered affirmatively in the grocery store and in the household?

 

 

The answer is that, though such distinctions can be made theoretically, they cannot be preserved in practice. Values may be corrupted or abolished in only one discipline at the start, but the damage must sooner or later spread to all; it can no more be confined than air pollution. If we corrupt agriculture we corrupt culture, for in nature and within certain invariable social necessities we are one body, and what afflicts the hand will afflict the brain.

 

The effective knowledge of this unity must reside not so much in doctrine as in skill. Skill, in the best sense, is the enactment or the acknowledgement or the signature of responsibility to other lives; it is the practical understanding of value. Its opposite is not merely unskillfulness, but ignorance of sources, dependences, relationships.

 

Skill is the connection between life and tools, or life and machines.

 

 

http://www.bookdepository.com/Unsettling-America-Wendell-Berry/9780871568779