I Just Figured It Out

global-warming-ppt-free-download-free-download-global-warming-powerpoint-presentation-with-slides-ideasI just figured it out. 

I always thought it was really weird that so many big business owners (and politicians dependent on big business owners for contributions) refuse to “believe” in climate change and the science that says humans are responsible. It’s so obvious. It’s been made abundantly clear by scientists all over the world. How could they be so stupid?

Stupid? Maybe not.

I was listening to a radio program about Puerto Rico where someone pointed out that after the hurricane Puerto Ricans are being pushed out of Puerto Rico (or dying) just as the people of New Orleans were pushed out after Hurricane Katrina. Big business is moving in.

I remembered the book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein.[i] She told about the teachings of Milton Friedman, an economist who wanted to “return” to pure capitalism, a place with no government regulations and no trade barriers. The only way we could get there was to “deliberately inflict painful shocks” (Klein, p.60).  You could move in on a country after a foreign invasion, or after a disaster, and privatize – basically take over the economy.

This is actually taught as good economics at many universities around the country.

This works great for the rich.

Not so much for the middle class and poor. Klein points out that, “some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era [50’s through maybe today?], which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by antidemocratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical freemarket ‘reforms.’” (Klein, p.11)

And then the big corporations move in.

We’ve seen it in Nigeria. How about this Newsweek headline: Oil Spills in Nigeria Could Kill 16,000 Babies a Year.[ii] That was Shell Oil.

There’s the devastating war on Yemen. One million people with cholera. Who benefits? Saudi Arabian big corporations and their allies. Who are their allies?  Guess.[iii]

When Hurricane Katrina happened many people were shipped out of New Orleans and still haven’t been able to return. Wealthy business owners took advantage of the chaos and confusion to privatize the government services (many schools were closed and replaced with charter schools, often operated by private companies, for instance), to buy up the land from the devastated home owners, etc. – in other words, to rip the people of the area off.

Now it’s happening in Puerto Rico.

It’s called Disaster Capitalism.

How does that relate to not believing in Climate Change? Were both hurricanes a result of Climate Change?  Probably at least the greater size of them can be attributed to Climate Change, but that really doesn’t matter. We know that Climate Change is going to bring more extreme weather, more disasters all over the world.

What about the supposed stupidity of the big business men and politicians?
This is what I finally figured out.
It isn’t stupidity.  It’s duplicity.

Just as Exxon knew about – “believed in” – climate change forty years ago and hid that knowledge from the rest of us,[iv] I believe that all these corporate dudes and right-wing politicians understand that climate change is happening, and know that it’s a result of human behavior, but are lying to us about their “un-belief” so they don’t have to look like selfish cruel despots when they refuse to stop it from happening.

If we allow climate change to happen, there will be more and more opportunities to move in on people devastated by disaster, steal their homes, their land, their communities, and enrich the rich.  Bonus? Lots of poor people die and the rich don’t have to deal with them anymore.

Appalling isn’t it?
Disgusting, ugly, mean, and immoral.
Sinful – from the point of view of any of the major religions.

 

[i] Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

[ii] Gaffey, Conor, Newsweek, http://www.newsweek.com/nigeria-oil-oil-spills-neonatal-mortality-702506

[iii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/21/one-million-people-have-caught-cholera-in-yemen-you-should-be-outraged/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7eae815d3873

[iv] Schwartz, John, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/23/climate/exxon-global-warming-science-study.html

“They found that Exxon’s climate change studies, published from 1977 to 2014, were in line with the scientific thinking of the time. Some 80 percent of the company’s research and internal communications acknowledged that climate change was real and was caused by humans. But 80 percent of Exxon’s statements to the broader public, which reached a much larger audience, expressed doubt about climate change.”

 

In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the protagonists, who have shape shifted to the form of one of their Tla Twein (see former post “Exploring Our Tla Twein”), are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei.  The Tsin Twei is in danger from many directions, but they all lead back to one place — corporate malfeasance.

You can order print versions from Powell’s Books or your local independent bookstore, or purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Want to explore your own Tla Twein? In the fall I will be presenting a workshop in Oakland, CA where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twein call us. Contact me at connie@deephum.com for more information.  Put “Tla Twein Workshop” in the subject line.

“Have a seat, young lady.”

May 28, 2018

Like millions of women, both old and young, I have been called, “young lady” a billion times and I’m heartily tired of it.

The other day I went in for a routine chest x-ray. The technician called me “young lady” and made not too funny jokes, thinking to put me at ease, I guess. I’ve had tons of chest x-rays over the years. There is nothing scary about them.

When I pointed out that I wasn’t young. He made jokes about my being 20 years younger in “Bob years.” His name was Bob (not really – of course I changed it.)

Do I want to be 20 years younger? Well, it would be nice if my body was 20 years younger, but I’ll keep my brain and my experiences at 75, thank you. If you think you’re flattering me by calling me young you obviously think there’s something wrong with my actual age. I must be “over the hill.” Well, I’m still “climbing” and expect to keep climbing until I die.

But I think “young lady” is always an insult regardless of its intent. Even when I was thirty I didn’t like it. I remember clearly thinking, “I’m not a lady, I’m a woman.” (Actually, I remember thinking, “I’m a grown woman.”)

What is the difference? “Lady” used to be term reserved for woman of middle or higher class – not for all women. “Ladies” were not really allowed to fully grow up. They were kept ignorant of many things that were not considered acceptable for “a lady’s ears.” They were not allowed to study certain subjects (architecture was reserved for men even after WWII), to enter in any profession except teaching (and then you had to quit if you got married), and even by the time I came along it was frowned upon if a “lady” worked as a waitress or a sales clerk in a department store.

For me when I’m called a “young lady” the implication is that I’m curtailed in what I’m allowed to do. I have to behave in a certain “lady-like” way, I have to cow-tow to the men in my life, I’m not allowed to go to certain neighborhoods, or have friends who are not in my “class.”

Well, phooey on that!

I’m a strong seventy-five-year-old woman. I have an exciting future in front of me and much of it, like my past, will not fit in the former “lady-like” requirements.

Just watch what happens the next time someone calls me “young lady.”

 

In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the protagonists, who have shape shifted to the form of one of their Tla Twein (see former post “Exploring Our Tla Twein”), are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei.  You can order print versions from Powell’s Books or your local independent bookstore, or purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Want to explore your own Tla Twein? In the fall I will be presenting a workshop in Oakland, CA where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twein call us. Contact me at connie@deephum.com for more information.  Put “Tla Twein Workshop” in the subject line.

But What About the Crow?

Jesus fold-out by altarnativearts.com

Jesus fold-out by altarnativearts.com

In my last post I had an imaginary conversation with the “deities” on my bedside altar: Durga, Kuan Yin, Jesus, a small Finnish witch, a crow and a turtle.

As I wrote this I was a little uncomfortable at the stance of the “deities”, and yet felt it to be real. “We can’t do anything to stop this,” they said when I raged at the rape of an eight-year-old girl.

We don’t want to believe that.

Daily I wish for a God who would act openly against the evil I see in the world (even wishing that certain people would find a lightning bolt landing in front of them jolting them off their feet, throwing them to the ground, and demanding that they change their ways! LOL).

But there are no lightning bolts.
We can’t sit back and count on “God” – whoever that god or goddess is to you – to do it.

That means…
Well, who’s left?
Me, you, us?

But then why do we have these “deities”? Why are these particular manifestations sitting on my altar?

Because they are some of my “Tla Twein.” I am drawn to them because they have something in their character that I want or need to acquire. Things I need in order to be the person I want to be.

From Durga I need the courage to stand up and fight – ferociously if need be – against the demon greed which is destroying our earth. From Kuan Yin I need to learn compassion – even for those who are the evil doers. I must not succumb to the hatred and contempt that perhaps the crow seems to express toward humans. From Jesus I need to remember that all I can do is throw my words out to the world and hope they are interpreted correctly…  And I remember (even if Jesus did not say it in our brief conversation in the last post) that Jesus was willing to die for his cause. He didn’t hide from his opponents.

I think he was afraid.
Why else that lament in the garden, “Let this cup pass from me,” (Matt 26:36). But he continued despite his fear. Sometimes I’m very afraid just to say something, much less do something.

From the little witch I need to remember that being different sometimes brings on the wrath of others, being small makes it hard to fight the giant demon greed, but I must persist.
From Jesus and the little witch I need to learn to act despite my fear.

But what about the crow? Was that a true interpretation of the feelings of crows? I like crows. Why was I drawn to them originally? I think what I need from the crow is some defiance, some brazenness, some willingness to stand my ground. Crows know that humans are part of the circle of life, not apart from it. They aren’t afraid of humans, nor do they worship them. They know if humans continue their destructive greedy path they will end up extinct (unfortunately, bringing other species with them), but earth will survive.
The crows will fight for the survival of crows.

And I will try to fight for the survival of humans.
And because Jesus said, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” (Matthew 25:40) I will fight, not just for the survival of the human species, but for the survival of the tiniest little Muslim girl, for the survival of the poor, and the survival of all living creatures. My Tla Twein wil help me.

In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the protagonists, who have shape shifted to the form of one of their Tla Twein, are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei.  You can order print versions from your local independent bookstore or purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Want to explore your own Tla Twein? In the fall I will be presenting a workshop in Oakland, CA where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twein call us. Contact me at connie@deephum.com for more information.  Put “Tla Twein Workshop” in the subject line.

They Tell Me Not to Write About Things Like This

My bedside altar

My bedside altar

Morning.
I’m aware.
Eyes not open.
No movement, body frozen,
but aware.
I am heavy. Not dead, but…
Remembering.
Why should I open my eyes on this world?
Why should I wake up, get up, do… anything,
but sleep.

I doze and then…
My eyelids flutter open.
An image, there, in my head
superimposed on my bedside altar.
(A paper pop-up Durga forms the background of my altar.
Kuan Yin , Jesus , the little Finnish Witch ,
the crow, and the beaded turtle
all sit in front to either side
where I can see them when I open my eyes.)
I close my eyes.
Still there.
There was no picture in the article,
but I can see her.
An eight-year-old Muslim girl.
Kidnapped. Raped. Bludgeoned to death by
two policemen and the caretaker of a Hindu temple.
Raped, beaten to death in the temple.

Why?
To try to scare her community off their land.
This innocent was tortured and killed for a piece of land.

“HOW COULD YOU ALLOW THIS?”
my head, my heart, my gut screams at Durga.

“I fight the demons,” she cried back.
“The men who did this see the people who get in the way of their greed
and call them demons.
They pray to me to fight them.
But their greed is the demon!
GREED IS THE DEMON!”

Kuan Yin, trapped in her tree trunk murmurs,
“I hear her cries. I listen, but I am bound here,
bound in the trunk of this tree
or in the helplessness of my womanhood.”
(Downstairs, Kuan Yin rides a dragon.
SURELY SOMEONE WHO RIDES A DRAGON CAN STOP THIS!)

I turn to Jesus.
“I’m bound, too,” he says.
“Bound in the convoluted misuse of my life –
and the things I said, and the things I didn’t say
that are written in my name.
I can’t protect this child.”

YOU SAID, “LET THE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME,”
I yell, but he just shakes his head.

And the Finnish witch?
“I’m small.
They’ll kill me, too.
After all, I’m a witch.”

Then the crow, front and center on the altar,
caws loudly and turns his beady eyes on me,
boring into me.

“I spit on the humans,” he shrieks.
“They kill each other and kill each other some more,
murdering children everywhere…
What’s new about Hindus killing Muslims when in Yemen Muslims kill Muslims,
and Americans help them?
When Muslims kill Christians and Christians kill even more Muslims,
(just as they killed indigenous peoples all over the earth,)
when one tribal group kills the members of another tribal group…”

(“And all of them call the people they’re killing, Demons,” murmured Durga.)

“When Buddhists kill the Rohingya,” continued the crow,
his wings lifting menacingly.
“Nazi’s kill Jews, and Israeli’s kill Palestinians,
And men everywhere kill women…”

CAW, CAW, CAW! He screeches.

“But the worse,” he paces back and forth in front of me,
“the worse is how they increase and increase,
creeping out and out upon the land,
stealing the livelihood of the wild things, killing the wild things,
millions of wild things,
and nothing, nothing,
not even the killing of each other,
stops them.
NOTHING STOPS THEM!”

He pauses and preens his feathers…
Preening until his heart stops beating so fiercely in his chest.

Then, staring coldly into my eyes,
he continues

“But I survive.
I have learned to live among you,
and I will outlive you all.
I WILL OUTLIVE YOU ALL”

I sigh and grope my way out of bed.

The beaded turtle, just moves,
step by step,
slowly on.

Was that a hopeful ending? I think so. I did, after all, get out of bed. I wrote it down, and posted it in hopes that the message – Durga’s message – “Greed is the Demon” – would go somewhere. Like the turtle, I’m moving slowly, step by step…

Greed keeps humans from the Dance of Life. That’s the message in The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet as well. The end is hopeful, too, — more hopeful than just getting out of bed — albeit known to be temporary. Humanity can come back to the dance, and stay there if the activists don’t let their guard down. Well, that’s hopeful… if exhausting.

You can take a break and read an enticing suspenseful metaphysical fantasy! The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet can be ordered in paperback from any independent bookstore and bought online as either a paperback or an ebook at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Howling in the Night, an Eerie Wonder

170px-HowlsnowWouldn’t you like to leap, and spin around and over your friends, and end up out of breath in a mush pile, a laughing heap of beings? That’s what wolf pups do. The wolf is one of the animals that call to me, one of my Tla Twein.  (see my earlier post on the Tla Twein) 

I notice that many people love wolves. For some of my piano students, the stickers of wolves that I receive in the mail from conservation organizations are the first choice to put on a finished song.

Two conflicting ideas about wolves are prevalent: One is of the “lone wolf”, solitary, strong, but alone; the other about the close warm ties between the members of a wolf pack, working together to gather their food and raise their babies. Different members of the pack help out by babysitting the cubs while the mother is out hunting.

But when we think of what draws us to the wolves, perhaps these two images are not so conflicting. Perhaps we yearn for the camaraderie, the playful closeness of the pack, and yet feel like the lone wolf who is seeking a pack. On the other hand, sometimes we need the solitary aloneness (but not lonely) of the “lone wolf”.  Sometimes we need to move away from the pull toward compliance of the pack. We need to find our own path.

The lone wolf doesn’t stay completely alone. Sometimes in the night the lone wolf howls. If others can hear them, they respond, and the song echoes back and forth across the miles. This howling in the night is an eerie wonder – wolves singing together reaching with their songs across long distances to lone wolves and other packs (and all the other species that can hear them). Strange dissonances send thrills up our spine, bring new ideas of harmony, new possibilities.

Solitary singing is good, but when we sing in a group there is something so powerful and breathtaking that happens that I, at least, can hardly contain the joy. And when a human composer brings in the forbidden dissonances we hear in the wolf songs, I tremble with some combination of fear and delight. It’s clear, when we watch videos of wolves howling, that this power of harmony and dissonance happens for the wolves, too.

I confess, when the husky down the street howls in her yard as my dogs and I go past, I cannot restrain myself from howling back. Sometimes if she isn’t howling, I’ll give a little howl and she joins me. What a thrill! I wish I dared throw my head back and howl with all my might. My little dogs don’t howl with the husky, only with the fire sirens. But when they howl, they sit up so straight, so earnest, so involved in the howl, that I know it’s a spiritual ritual, a solemn invocation of….?

What is it that I need to learn from the wolf as my Tla Twei? Perhaps it’s the cooperative bonding of the pack for the serious business of the hunt – in my case to take on the serious problems of the world – and the restful dance of playtime ending in the physical closeness of the mush pile.

And in the night, the ritual of singing in strange harmonies, reaching joyfully to my fellow humans on the other side of the valley or the world.

 

In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the Tla Twein are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei.  You can purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and order print versions from your local independent bookstore.

Want to explore your own Tla Twein? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can attend a three hour workshop on April 28th in Oakland where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twein call us. The fee is “pay what you can”. Contact me at connie@deephum.com for more information.  Put Tla Twein Workshop in the subject line.

Exploring Our Tla Twein (What’s that??)

Quartet EbookCoverDo you find yourself drawn to a particular animal – a spirit animal – or to certain mythological characters, a hero from a folk tale, or a real-life hero whose journey seems to call to you? A saint or a diety? Even a tree or flower? A tarot card?In my fantasy novel, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet your Tla Twei is one of these – a mythological character whose form you must take in order to travel to Ninas Twei where the Tsin Twei, the Dance of Life takes place. Where all the species on earth dance together to ensure the continuance of life on earth.

Except humans.

Humans have lost their ability to join the dance.  But some humans can observe the dance by taking the form of their Tla Twei.  They are the ones working to bring humanity back to the Dance.

In thinking about the Tla Twein outside of their role in the novel I realized that we have many of these characters in our lives.  We even have cards and books designed to help us find which ones we are “like”.

But I want to take a different approach to the exploration of our Tla Twei.  Instead of pulling a card that tells me about my animal (or character from mythology, etc), I want to notice the animals and heroes, the characters that I’m drawn to, and find out why.

440px-Harriet_Tubman_by_Squyer,_NPG,_c1885I stumbled on this approach one day as I danced in an InterPlay class and wondered why I’m so drawn to Harriet Tubman, a real-life hero.

Her courage frightens me.

How could she go alone down into the woods of the south, singing her spirituals so that the slaves would hear her, know she was there, and would gather their courage and follow her to freedom?  Alone.

How could she risk her life, risk being caught, being tortured, being returned to slavery? Alone.

There is bravery in numbers. Most of the time I’ve been brave I’ve been with others. But venturing out alone?

I came to an understanding.

I was drawn to Harriet Tubman because she had a quality I want.  She had the courage to strike out alone to do what is right. It still frightens me. I haven’t acquired this quality yet, but it sits there waiting for me.

And then there’s the other Tla Twein in my life. Why did I spend my childhood playing Robin Hood? What is it about wolves that draws me in – and so many others?  (I find wolf lovers everywhere I turn, including among my very young piano students.) Why do I feel that the oak trees of my childhood home were my mothers? Why am I so drawn to Kuan Yin? Is there a growing point for me behind my infatuation with each of these beings?

I am presenting a workshop where we can explore our Tla Twein using InterPlay forms and other arts to dig beneath the surface of our selves and find new growing points.  Are you interested? Let me know at connie@deephum.com.

The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet is now available in a paperback print version. You can order it at many independent bookstores or buy it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

On attending an Art Response to Japanese Internment:

cranes on branch
The dancing, the poems carried the message,
Viscerally.
In our muscles, our bones.

Words,
letters from the interned.
A connection –
tenuous but important
to those left behind.

A thousand tiny red origami cranes
moving with the hands of the dancers,
forming shapes,
a heart.

The presence of people
black, brown, white
so warm and right.
All one
together.

Japanese Internment.
Immigrant Detention.
Incarceration of minor drug offenders.
Genocide of Jews, of Armenians,
Indigenous Peoples,
Africans on slave ships.
Apartheid.
Segregation.

The pain of separation
one group from the rest
is a ripping pain,
ripping
our Selves
apart.
No longer whole.

For the oppressed side
immediate,
horrendous
pain,
their very lives threatened.

The oppressors
hide,
numb themselves
to the pain
eating them
from the inside out,
killing them, too,
soul dead.

We cannot be whole without all of us present.
When I left the Art Response I carried with me a desire to never again be in a gathering without everyone there, every race, religion, culture, age, gender.

All the living and non-living things in the Universe are One Being emerging from one singularity. All pain belongs to all of us. When we hide ourselves from the ugliness of the pain we have caused, deny the pain, it becomes a disease eating us from the inside.

We are oblivious to it and it will destroy us all.

Never again.  Never again.  NEVER AGAIN!

 

FIRE ROARS IN ME

firebird

Insights from an InterPlay Class

“Play with fire,” she said.

I wanted to dance
about an elder who leaves home,
who goes wandering.

Not fire.

I craved the wandering,
the letting go,
the peace.

But I was supposed to dance with fire.

I moved.
I spun.
Empty mind
spinning.
Letting go.
Peace…

Images came.
Words came.
Filling the void.
Understanding
the wish
to leave
because…

THERE IS A FIRE ROARING IN ME

A fire tamped down
again and again.
Sometimes discharging
a small flame of
carefully controlled passion
in words on the page.

But still it growls
in my chest,
in my belly,
wanting to be released.

I have been water
flowing down the easiest slope.

Not a pounding wave
or a flood.
Just a stream flowing.

Water is good.
Without pure water
no people
no species
no life.

Water helps things to mix
forming new things.

I’ve been the flow
that lets people mix
recognizing,
celebrating their cultural differences.
Forming new cultures.
World fusion!

I have been air
reaching into atmospheric intellect.
In rare moments of outrage
I am wind,
but never hurricane.

And yes, I have been nurturing earth
helping my students
my friends
my family to grow
(and sometimes
just being the ground beneath their feet)

BUT NOW FIRE ROARS IN ME
wiping out the tangling undergrowth.
Wind howls a path through the thickets of my mind.
Deluge pounds the dry hard earth beneath my feet,
tenderizing the soil,
making a place for the seeds of change to grow.

Let it be so.

 

The Silencing

the_silence_of_the_lambs_by_ineedchemicalx-d5oo88hI am posting this because I think perhaps we all feel silenced, no matter how much real time we get to tell our stories.  I raged because I felt silenced, and then realized how privileged I am in being able to tell so much.
Others are far more silenced than I am.

This is the story:

Anna walks in silence
Walks and walks and walks
It used to be the tiny dog followed, running after her.
But the dog died
And now she walks alone.
She doesn’t talk
except to nod, say my name,
and keep on walking.

One day she saw me standing in witness
Staring as a police officer put handcuffs
On a young black man with beautiful dreadlocks,
A pretty, sweet looking young man.
Bobby, who was working on a car right there at the curb
Right beside where the police car sat in the street
Right behind the young man’s car
where another officer searched the trunk,
Bobby said to me, “I ain’t saying nothing.”
He was frightened.

I was frightened, too,
even though I’m not black,
I hadn’t done anything…
(Maybe the young man hadn’t done anything either –
He wasn’t arrested…
But he was handcuffed, standing in the middle of the street,
Not moving,
Not offering any resistance.)

Anna saw me standing in witness
As she walked by
with quick glances at the police
at me.

The next day she spoke,
“You know that boy you watched yesterday?”
(She called him a boy.
I thought him a boy, too, young, vulnerable,
but by law he was a grown man)
I nodded.
“He was shot, killed.  Yesterday, later.”*

I felt my eyes open wide.
Frozen.
How… how…
(But that’s how I know he wasn’t arrested.
If he’d been arrested, he wouldn’t have been shot.)

She nodded and kept on walking.

One day I wanted to tell this story,
But I was silenced.
It was not really a good time to tell the story.
It was not an inappropriate silencing.
I knew that.
(And maybe I can tell this story so much better here, on paper,
than stumbling bumbling though the verbal)
But still, a rage welled up in me.
Silenced, I thought.
It feels like I’m always silenced.

I danced my rage,
my rage about myself
about my being silenced…
and something else happened.
Something much more important.

In the midst of my rage at being silenced
Another rage erupted
Coming from deep down
A volcano of rage.
I recognized how much more silenced
The people of my neighborhood are.
I saw how privileged I am.
I have the money to host a blog.
I have the time and the education to write books,
To post on Facebook, on Twitter.

I realized that Anna
That thin stark figure who walks and walks
Anna has been truly silenced,
Bound, shackled by our society
much like her ancestors were shackled.
Listen
Listen
As Anna walks in silence, she talks.
Listen
Her body tells the story.

* Just to be clear, this was not a police involved shooting.

Blue Birds and the White Cliffs of Dover

doverI’m a piano teacher.

Saturday I came home to find a big stack of old music left on my front porch by a neighbor who’d found it in a piano bench.

My first thought, was, “Oh, no, not more music,” but as I thumbed through it I found myself thoroughly enjoying sitting down to the piano to read through the old sheet music.

Some were familiar, others weren’t.

I found myself laughing somewhat ruefully at the words of Ira and George Gershwin’s The Man I Love.  As an adolescent I loved this song. I still believed in “Prince Charming,” I guess, and that someone would come along and “take care of” me. Actually, I don’t think I really thought that far ahead. I suspect I just wanted to be hugged. Or to be accepted as an okay person, i.e. beautiful female. Even then I had a strong streak of independence that wouldn’t have put up with being encaged in “a little home just meant for two, from which [I’d] never roam.”

When I came to the piece There’ll Be Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover, I laughed at the title, and then realized that this was a WWII song written in 1941 by Nat Burton and Walter Kent, both American Jews. As I played it, singing the words, I felt the poignancy of the people of England facing the bombing of their homes, the children sent away for safety.

Then I came to the words, “There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after, tomorrow when the world is free,” and I felt tears welling up. Will there ever be a time when we have “peace ever after”, when “the world is free,” (according– since West Side Story was based on Romeo and Juliet – to my own terms of what freedom means.) The blue birds, it turns out were the planes of the RAF painted blue on the bottom so they would be harder to see against the sky.

As I continued on through the music I found more songs echoing a wistful hope for a better world.  A Time for Us from Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (an incredibly well done version of Shakespeare made in the late 60’s) calling for “A time for us… a new world of shining hope for you and me.” One reviewer compared this movie to West Side Story, which I found hilarious – since West Side Story was based on Romeo and Juliet – before I saw the movie, and understood completely after seeing it.  And then, of course, there is Somewhere from West Side Story (which wasn’t in this pile of music) – “We’ll find a new way of living … a way of forgiving.”

I’m sure there are dozens, maybe hundreds, more of these wistful, hopeful songs going back centuries. (Add your favorites in the comments.)

These songs are important, but they tend to paralyze me, rather than push toward working for change. What we really need is songs that call us to action, and there are plenty of these, as well. (These too could be listed in the comments.)

In the Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet there is at least one song that is a call to action. Arise! asks us to “open our eyes,” “beat our feet to the beat of our heart,” and “join the dance of life.” You can hear the music and see the words here.