Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Spoils

We're Americans. We came, we conquered, we pushed into the endless West by the sweat of our brow and the fire of our rifles, and even though we ran out of endlessness long ago, we still believe we can bootstrap ourselves into our own individual clean water and roads and schools and self-defense, all 320 million of us. 'S long as we don't get sick or nothin'. No socialism for us!

But oh, capitalism. Why do we love it so, and so uncritically? It's the engine of prosperity, that's the dogma--the idea that the means of production are in private hands, that profit accrues to the victors, that everyone comes out better, that we go on growing forever and together. If only there were any evidence that it's true, and not that a whole lot of people are doing the work and a tiny fraction is accumulating the profits, and that it's not possible to grow forever! Something doesn't add up.

Used to be people did for themselves and traded for what they could, and mostly people were on the same level. Maybe not for the last few hundred years, but for a million more before that. And they managed to thrive. What's happening, now that having far more than one needs has been elevated to a virtue?

Ask my friend Julie. Julie Zickefoose is a naturalist, exquisitely educated in the splendor of this, our first and last planet. She is observant enough to behold the whole fabric, to know what will come undone when the threads are pulled. She knows what sustains us. But she has to pay for that intimacy. Because, more than those of us who allow advertising to instruct us what we should crave, she experiences every day the thumping joy of natural abundance, our true wealth. And with it, the freight of sorrow that comes with knowing what we've lost, and have yet to lose.

She's counting her losses now. She's got eighty natural Ohio acres she calls a "sanctuary," because it's the losses all around it that define it. And just down the road, she is watching a wooded wonder come crashing down, tree by tree, and she knows every creature that depends on it, bird to bat to bobcat. She'll be the one who remembers where the newt pond used to be. She is watching a tapestry being degraded to burlap. Because someone was willing to part with it for a dab of cash to put an oil well in there. Soon the birdsong will be crushed under a constant roar, and a flaming stack will steal the dark from the night.

She and many of her neighbors have not signed away their mineral rights, but a patchwork of natural poverty is blooming all around her, scored by a drumbeat of machinery. When the patches overwhelm the original fabric, the threads can't hold it together.

Lord pity the people who have the misfortune of living on top of something like the Marcellus Shale. When coal is to be mined, or copper, or diamonds, or shale oil, everything that stands between capitalism's victors and their money is called "overburden." That would include your forests, your carbon sinks, your newt ponds, your topsoil, your water, your last planet's own means of production. And all of us: we're overburden too. Coal miners are nothing if not expendable, but so is everyone else who counts on the genius of the living world to sustain us, even if we don't know it. We are to be tossed aside as the money is siphoned to the top and we will be left with less than we started with. Much less.



It's not a coincidence that extraction piracy is so often inflicted on indigenous peoples. In some parts of the world, they are sitting on the last unmolested acres, so they must be subdued. In America, the First Nations were allotted the unloved bits, the pieces with no obvious value to the conquerers, and now that it turns out there's black gold in them there barren hills, why, it's time for them to knuckle under again. In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux are holding their ground against the capitalists. The oil comes from elsewhere, but the pipeline is to be routed in a way that threatens their sacred sites and their water. Life, in other words. Lest these concerns seem quaint and primitive, know this: the pipeline route has already been changed to accommodate the needs of the good white people of Bismarck.

Only a false economy considers the profit of a few to be a fair swap for a devastated, discarded landscape and a ruined atmosphere. The balance sheets are off. The costs have been hidden.

The Standing Rock Sioux understand what is sacred on this last planet, and they're standing against its destruction. Who will stand with them?

Thanks, Murr https://murrbrewster.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-spoils.html?showComment=1478983584823#c8285355603390551480

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post-Election (November 8, 2016)

KINDNESS
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
 Kindness by  Naomi Shihab Nye

 https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/11/10/naomi-shihab-nye-kindness/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+brainpickings%2Frss+%28Brain+Pickings%29

Borrowed from another quilt artist's blog---from Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address:
 









Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Barter - Sarah Teasdale Poem



Barter by Sarah Teasdale
 
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Friday, September 02, 2016

A Hopi Prayer

Hopi Prayer



 Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold onto what you believe
even if its a tree that stands by itself.
Hold onto what you must do
even if its a long way from here.
Hold onto your life
even if its easier to let go.
Hold onto my hand
even when I've gone away from you.
 
 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

September 1, 2016


"September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.  The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains of his brief life.  The bumblebee is busy among the clover blossoms of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor world above the voices of the song birds, now silent or departed."
-   September Days   By Rowland E. Robinson, Vermont. 


 "September is Autumn at hand and Summer reluctant to leave; it is days loud with cicadas and nights loud with katydids...It is hot days and cool nights and hurricane and flood and deep hurt and high triumph.  September is both more than a month and less, for it is almost a season in itself.  It is flickers in restless flocks, readying for migration;it is goldfinches in thistledown; it is fledglings on the wing, and half-grown rabbits in the garden, and lambs in the feed lot.  It is the gleam of goldenrod and the white and lavender and purple of fence row asters, with the bright spangle of bittersweet berries.
    September is fog over the river valleys at dawn and the creep of early scarlet among the maples in the swamp.  It is sumac in war paint.  It is bronze of hillside grass gone to seed.  It is walnuts ripening and squirrels busy among the hickories.  It is late phlox like a flame in the garden, and zinnias in bold color, and chrysanthemums budding.  It is the last gallant flaunt of portulaca and petunias defying time and early frost.
     September is the first tang of wood smoke and the smolder of burning leaves.  It is bass and perch revitalized in the chilling waters of pond and stream.  It is the hunter's dog sniffing the air and quivering to be off to the underbrush.
     September is time hastening and days shortening, it is the long nights of Autumn closing in with their big stars and glinting moon.  September is the wonder and fulfillment and the ever-amazing promise of another Autumn."  Hal Borland