Saturday, June 12, 2010

Please Bless These Seeds I Sow

Everybody knows This Land is Your Land, but we don't usually sing down to the last verses where the point Woody was making back in the 1930's seems particularly relevant in 2010:

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Here's Pete shouting out the verse at Obama's inauguration.

Pete sang this verse at the inauguration, too.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Obama himself sings along, but everybody knows that his power is limited no matter what's really in his heart. Big Oil has big influence in the White House no matter who the president is. Big Money has controlled the government since Woody wrote this dang song, and long before that as well. Coal miners in the UK started unionizing in the 1830's to fight pretty much the same bastards who control BP today. Before that, I think workers just died -- like the folks who died before they ever saw a penny of the money Exxon was supposed to pay in compensation for the Valdez incident. Nothing shuts somebody up like dying, and Big Money can afford to wait.

While Pete is clapping and encouraging the people on the Mall to sing along, his grandson is really carrying the song, much like Arlo has been carrying the song for Woody, and now Alro's kids are singing. One of them plays ukulele in a band with Willie Nelson's daughter. Generations of folk singers fighting the Imperialists who try to own us all. Notably, Pete didn't encourage Obama to sing along. Pete rallied the people on the Mall because if change will ever really come, the people are going to have to demand it. Generation after generation after generation.

This fight has been going on for thousands of years. Both Jesus and the Buddha offered an alternative path, and the message is simple: Stop Being Assholes. Sadly, assholes abound. Not only in our government and on Wall Street, but also across the world - like in Israel where activists armed with kitchen knives are killed execution style by the military and in Afghanistan where girls are beaten for trying to escape arranged marriages to old men (CNN video at Change Happens).

Maybe this generation is lost. I keep thinking of that dumb ass Jaded saw up in Nebraska waving a confederate flag as he filled up his truck at BP because that dumb ass represents our slide into Idiocracy. I'm worried that the assholes will use the Idiocracy for fun and profit, effectively stomping the rest of us underground where we survive in small, isolated pods until we look out of our burrows like groundhogs in twenty years to see if it's safe to go outside again. Reverend Billy has already noted that the BP disaster has become a Reality show complete with ratings and ad revenues.

Some people have made noise about Obama indoctrinating America's youth to Socialism - as if that could actually happen in corporate controlled America. Those people need to know that there are teachers around this country quietly and intentionally passing on the message to the next generation, hoping to raise a crop of youngsters who will keep fighting these bastards even as they are stomping us into the ground.

At school, we practiced The Garden Song (Mallet, 1975) for a couple of weeks in preparation for the sing on the last day of school. The oldest kids at our school are six years old. My kids are two and three year olds.

I watch my kids as if they are the seeds that need protecting - so they can live to fight another day.

Inch by inch, row by row
Please bless these seeds I sow
Please keep them safe below
'Till the rain comes tumbling down

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Need a place to call my own
'Cause the time is close at hand

Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature's chain
Till my body and my brain
Tell the music of the land


intelliwench said...

Woman, you're making me tear up!

It does seem like the powers that be or wanna be don't give a shit about those seeds: Between the short-sighted money-muckers who can't see beyond the next balance sheet and those who are only looking ahead to their eternal reward in the next life, I don't know which is worse.

Every political discussion I had with my mother last election cycle had me bringing up the point, "How can you vote for a party that would deny your granddaughters control of their bodies?" I mistakenly thought she cared about someone other than herself, about something other than money. She is not the same woman who raised me. (But then, I don't know how much "mother's little helper" had to do with her being the woman who raised me...and is it a bad thing that I definitely liked her better before she stopped Prozac a few years ago ;-)

PENolan said...

Intelli, they all suck, but it's especially hard when somebody you care about has turned into a Republican, or worse, Teabagger.
I'm grateful that hasn't happened in my family - although my parents have supported Ron Paul in the past.

I don't know what they'll think of Ron now that Rand is making such an ass of himself, saying things like "I don't think anyone's going to be missing a hill or two here and there."

Punch said...

To much going on.
I have watched Pete Seeger all my life. I have great respect for his perseverance.
The song that comes to my mind is by Malvina Reynolds Little Boxes on the hillside.
Seeger brought it to my consciousness.

Second verse…
And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

Forth verse…
And the boys go into business,
And marry, and raise a family,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

The little houses on the hillside are 4 times the size and there is a green one and a yellow, anda blue one and a pink, well that is up to the neighborhood review committee.
I practice mediation and some days even that does not help enough.

PENolan said...

Punch - We sang that song on family road trips in the VW Bus.

I'm just learning how to meditate. I asked Max the psychic life coach to teach me.

I wish you would come to New Orleans for the NPPA event on Aug 21. I wish EVERYBODY would come, but I thought you'd especially like it because you take pictures.

Punch said...

Thanks. I'll keep it in mind, but my dance card seems to be full.
My thoughts will be with you.
(not said lightly)

tnlib said...

Like Punch, I've followed Pete Seeger for most of my life. A gentle soul who's music, philosophy and quiet courage have had a profound impact on me.

About this time last year I read Joe Klein's "Woody Guthrie." For the first time in my life I read the same book twice back to back. And now I'm ready to start again.
There were just so many complexities about Woody, every time you read the book you pick up on about a hundred more you didn't see the first time or two.

Of course Pete plays a major role in the book because he featured so heavily in Woody's life - and was about the only friend who stuck with Woody until his sad death from Huntington's Disease.

I tried to plant seeds of social consciousness in my daughters but I'm afraid my ex's money seeds were stronger and firmly implanted themselves in the girls. :-( Hopefully these seeds will rot away as they get older.

PENolan said...

Those money seeds are tricky, but I have faith a moment will come when your seeds take hold - once they have kids of their own!

Teeluck said...

This is so on point it is frigging amazing...

PENolan said...

Thanks, Teeluck

Vancouver Voyeur said...

M and I were talking about this recently. I wonder if every generation thinks the world is going to hell in a hand basket, or if our times are particularly worse. It's hard for me to watch the news and watch all the injustice around me at the local and national levels. I'm sick to my stomach and sick in my heart. I rise and fight, then retreat and lick my wounds. I never see any momentum gathering or change happening, even at incremental levels. It's hard not to wonder, "what's the point" when you continually try to no avail. I don't know what else to do to effect change. I live by example, I put myself out there, and for every idealist like me, willing to do the hard work and expose ourselves to attacks by those who profit from the status quo, there are thousands, maybe even millions of people willing to sit back complacently and let someone else do the work. How do you light a fire under the asses of the complacent masses?

Jennifer said...

The seeds will always be sown, and the Seegers and the Guthries are inspiring reminders of this. I have watched that video many times when I need to sustain my hope.
Unfortunately captialism breeds complacency - when we can get so much pleasure from the things we buy, why would we want to subject ourselves to the discomfort of actually learning about issues such as oil spills and mountaintops? If you keep people complacent and unaware, they're easier to frighten.

But I'm also seeing a slow move away from capitalist values. Movements like slow food, buying local foods, simplifying home and life, reducing traffic in cities... the people that are coming to realise where happiness and satisfaction REALLY come from are growing in numbers. And that scares the powers, and they in turn scare the too-lazy-to-think people exemplified by the teabaggers.

There's a popular vintage British wartime poster in the bloggy world: Keep Calm - Carry On. No one can ever stop you from sowing and tending the seeds.

PENolan said...

Jennifer, I'm reminded of a video that I think I saw on your blog back when you just started 30 days of beauty - a girl was reading a depressing statement, but when she read it backwards, it was uplifting.

If you see somebody rustling through your archives, it's me. Thanks for the encouragement.

I really thought that fire would have been lit by now - but one of the main reasons I want to go to my brother's event in NOLA on Aug 21 is that I figure a bunch of photojournalists who covered Katrina in New Orleans at the 5th anniversary, covered in oil has got to lead to something.

Jaliya said...

A Confederacy of Dunces (Thank you, John Kennedy Toole) devolves into an Idiocy of Assholes ...

"We are made of dreams and bones" ... What a beautiful phrase ... and so true ...

Children and grandchildren -- others', that is -- are, for robber barons, cannon fodder. It's the madness of our species ... We profess to be the only creatures on Earth that can love ... and yet what do we more often do -- and in ever more massive, mutilating ways? And we, as a species, *send our children* to do the bloodletting and land-wrecking -- to pave the way with their lives and how many others' so that Greed can take over and haul out what's left -- for baubles and bling like yachts and more weapons of war. Homo sapiens has not evolved beyond the biological primacy of "kill or be killed" ... The longer I live, the more I see the wisdom in Charles Darwin's observations and work ...

... and then there are the individual people who cultivate love and kindness as actual powers -- the saints among us ...

... and every shade of humanity in between, some more aggressive than others. (The longer I live with other creatures like cats and dogs, the more I make sense of humanity.)

For us, the supposedly only "conscious" creatures, it all seems to boil down to the love of power or the power of love. Sounds purple, I know, but there it is. Whatever our sphere of influence, we tend to relate with others and the world at large in one way or the other ...

I think it's time to pull out *The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy* for another read ...

I love how you think and write ... Thank you xoxo

PENolan said...

And now I feel like reading Confederacy of Dunces again. Fortunately, it's on the shelf.

I am just finishing Cat's Cradle for the fourth (?) time and am struck by the way it seems like Bin Laden is our Bokonon.

Oh Well. Off to work where we're setting up for camp. Next week, I can start squirting them with the hose. Now that's a good way to spend a morning.

Jennifer said...

Not sure if you rustled through the archives but here it is. I still love it.

PENolan said...

Thank YOU!
It makes me cry every time I see it.

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