Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

A newly public film illuminates Wendell Berry's vital essay in the aftermath of 9/11
by Kentucky For Kentucky |

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Kentucky author and farmer Wendell Berry attempted to make sense of that unsensible event and the foolish self-righteousness that allowed it to happen in a 27-part essay entitled “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”.


“What leads to peace,” Berry wrote, “is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being.”


In the now-famous essay, Berry also reiterated his lifelong warnings against centralized economies, specialized “educations”, thoughtless political rhetoric, environmental disrespect, waste, and scapegoating of minorities.


Years later, filmmaker Herb E. Smith of Appalshop–the groundbreaking media, arts, and education center in Whitesburg, Ky.–juxtaposed Berry’s words with scenes of rural Kentucky and clips from an in-depth interview about the process of writing in response to crisis and the essay’s continued relevancy.


Today, for the first time, Appalshop has made this work publicly accessible. Kentucky for Kentucky is proud to share it with you.



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