Now I hope — I devoutly hope — that if I were to ask Wendell Berry whether everyone who voluntarily leaves the place of his or her birth is “motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power,” he would say “Of course not.” Equally devoutly I hope that if I were to ask him whether the virtue of being a sticker is the only reason why people stay in their home towns he would also say, “Of course not.”
So why does he insist on the validity of this binary code? It’s useless — it’s worse than useless, it’s simplistic and uncharitable. There are many reasons why people stay home, and many why they leave; and probably no single person is driven by one reason only. “There’s no such thing as an unmixed motive,” as Rebecca West is said to have commented.
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