Thursday, January 12, 2006

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: So What Is Really New?

These few yeaars are perhaps the worst in our history, more dangerous than the Civil War. But today, looking through some old files I came on these two items from the 1970's. Makes you wonder what's really new, how long we've been in this difficulty, how long we've been asleep while the smart guys, lacking both intelligence and scruples, steal our country and endanger people everywhere.

THREE DREAMS

I dreamed the CIA
is not spying on us,
that we have a government
unequipped with lies;
that oppression does not stare
from the iron gate;
that grazing’s good,
children never empty,
mothers fleshed and milky
and hunger anywhere
easily assuaged
with a burger and some fries.

ςςςςςςςςς

Kev and Steph
I see you in the spring meadow
green and playful on your knees
rocking in the Beartooth wind,
the sweeping rye.

You stretch, touch hands, laugh,
roll over and over under your
nuclear future, already falling
from the a sun light years
from this fearless grass.

I climb the hill,
your photographic faces
small white moons upturned
in a darkness black
as a shadow burned into a wall.

ςςςςςςςςςς

I dreamed my life
does not create the day
a child ignites
in that white light
breaking
from the sun,
falls hidden, absorbed
by that non-mushroom cloud.
-- 1978

And this:

D-BASED AMERICA

I
Except for music
all counting is deadly.

Be assured:
what appears uncountable
immeasurable
will soon be counted
and measured; our auditors
are looking into it now.

Though we know
what is counted is doomed
(trees as board feet)
we have reason to believe
what is countable
will be counted
(water by acre-foot).
Victory is everything
to us.

We will tell you
when we have won –
as soon as we have
counted the bodies.

We have numbered you all.
In you we will find
our final solution.

II

We are happy to announce:

If you measure up
Everything
Will be yours!

We are counting on you
but your allegiance to us
is always in doubt.

We have ways to measure
Your devotion: the value
of your house. Your wage.
Whatever you fail to acquire
may be used against you.
Our “Survey of Acquisitions”
will measure your allegiance.

We are the numerators
the people of power.

We are here to tell you
our wealth is your obligation.
If you too become rich
the taxes you avoid
will be a sign unto you,
your contribution to what counts
in our culture.

We will keep track for you.
Your spreadsheet is in the mail.
You will be billed for it.

Though we cannot be held
accountable for any action
it is for you we count.
We want you to believe it is
in order to be fair: You are
one people, like-minded
accountable to us.

Forgive us our counting
as we forgive those who
count against us.
-- 1976

Sunday, January 08, 2006

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: Prayer for the New Year


This came from John Luther Adams, the distinguished
American composer, writer, and thoughtful spokesman for
the Natural world and social justice. It is a prayer
appropriate for our time, and ought to be worn on our
foreheads like a phylactery throughout the entire year.


Prayer for the New Year

May we extend to all people and to all life on this
Earth the dignity and the rights we expect for ourselves.

May we refuse to be ruled by fear.

May we resist all who would impose their beliefs on
others by intimidation, coercion or force. May we
surrender our own efforts to control the world by
these means.

May we forswear violence –violence against one another,
violence against the Earth.

May we know peace within ourselves. May we embody it
in our lives. May we lead by example.

May we say “no” to fascism masquerading as patriotism.

May we renounce those who would steal our votes and
trample our liberties, who would commandeer our
government to spy on us, its citizens. May we repudiate
them as they turn their deaf ears and blind eyes to
torture.

May we demand that our public servants behave as leaders
and as elders, not as hand servants of greed. May we,
the people, insist that they bear our grandchildren’s
grandchildren in their hearts and minds with every
decision they make. May we turn out all those who
betray this trust.

May we conduct our lives as if our neighbors, our future
generations, our fellow species and our home, this
sacred Earth, matter as much as we ourselves.

May we cherish and defend the precious remnants of
our original landscapes.

May we save our dying villages and abandon the
sprawling shopping malls.

May we protect the Arctic for centuries to come,
not as an industrial park, but as a refuge for
the human spirit.

May we relinquish our addiction to burning fossils.
May we subdue the wildfires and quell the storms
we have created with our lust for speed and power.

May we resolve and act, in our individual and our
collective lives, to stem the melting of the polar
ice and the rising of the seas.

May we understand that the more life we destroy on
this Earth, the more likely we are to destroy
ourselves.

May we reject the theology of the apocalypse,
and the politics of death.

May we reaffirm our faith in life –in the rich,
miraculous vastness of life, of which we are
but a tiny part.

May we stop waiting for the end of the world.
May we give up the conceit of escaping to other
planets. May we live with the conviction that
there must be a future for our descendants
here on this Earth.

May we acknowledge that we are lost in the darkness,
and renew our commitment to the light.

May we eschew joyless possessions and hollow
entertainments calculated to make us forget.
May we reclaim imagination for ourselves.

May we share stories. May we read and write books.
May we make and listen to music. May we dance.
May we paint and sculpt and film the shapes and
textures and colors of our dreams.

May we look and hope to see.
May we listen and hope to hear.

May we celebrate what it means to be human.
May we remember that we are also animals.

May we never forget that everything we are and
everything we do comes from and returns to the Earth.
May we recognize that divorced from what we call
“nature” we devolve toward oblivion.

May we live by the knowledge that our own true nature
is to be one with creation.

– John Luther Adams