Commonplace Book #130

The extremes of public conviction are always based upon rhetorical extremes, which is to say that their words–and their actions–have departed from facts, causes, and arguments, and have begun to follow the false logic of a feud in which nobody remembers the cause but only what was last said or done by the other side.  Language and behavior become purely negative in function.  The opponents no longer speak in support of their vision or their arguments or their purposes, but only in opposition to each other. Language ceases to bind heart to heart, action to principle, and becomes a weapon in a contention deadly as war, shallow as a game.

Wendell Berry, “Discipline and Hope” in A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural (1970), p.89