humanity

Earth and Freedom Song

A wilderness, a wilderness
calling, calling. When I was younger,
I had a fantasy of foraging
in the ruins of western civilization.
The truth of the zombie apocalypse
is that the worst predators are human.

A wilderness is calling us,
a wonderness. Earth is shifting
and our signpost won’t direct us
no more. We need a human technology.
We need music springing around us,
drums, voices, strings. Grass underfoot.

Spring is calling us, wilder now,
wondering at how long, how long
we’ve been downpressed. No more.
We make a human technology,
music and language, the laughter
of Earth working. Grass underfoot.

Flowers burst and we’re wilder here,
raving, calling in the dawn. Snowmelt
and rising rivers, up to our shins
in richness, rich mud. And all the colors
come out. Now, now we move,
shake out from this chrysalis. Wings.

Metamorphosis. We are seeds, we sing
an Earth song. These tones are our home,
we feel our blood rise to the occassion
and how long, we wonder at how long,
but no more. There’s a freedom coming
we’ve none of us known before.

Here

I am here on the precipice
looking out on work to be done
diving finding ground on which to walk
my voice is not my own is owned
is owned and it is I who do the owning
of my voice now

I am here on my own
holding your hand
discarding my clothes
together we turn to see the land
see it and taste it and walk on
on the ground we are finding

I am here with you
with your skin close to mine
I am afraid of all we must see
but the bare grass on my feet
and the music we speak
reminds me of youth

I am here on my own
owning a maturity a fruit
hard earned I am here
with you with your skin
close to mine I am sorry
for loss for the loss of life

I am here I own sorrow
but that is not all you say
and I affirm that we will be
more after all you have endured
and I say I cannot fathom
how you thrive

I am here and I cannot
choose to ignore any longer
the losses they have inflicted
and I am not complicit
in the blind rush to the precipice
but I watch the future fall

I am there with my sons
the extension of my flesh my thought
my love I am there with my sons
who are there coming to terms
with what has been done
and the work to be done

I am here which is nowhere
and I search for a place to stand
I see that the ground must be made
must be made of words of love
that will nurture the future
to blossom over the fire of the past

I am here I am not burning
am I burning who am I here
the television is telling us it is not us
it is telling us so much by
what it refuses to say
by its inability to hear

I am here demanding with you
that the present be accountable to the past
that our language be precise and authentic
that our technology serve us
that we serve the earth
I demand respect each other

I am here overstanding history
I have come to terms
I have come to shape the future
with words of love that nurture
skin and flesh and ground that blossoms
and demands that we be more basic

we are here and we must thrive
or we will die as we have died
and kill as we have killed we must stop
we must learn to bear fruit
we must learn to tend roots
we must learn we are here

Something Very Strange: the Work of Reclaiming Our Humanity

Something very strange happened to me. I was born white, male, and middle-class in the United States of America. I was miseducated into a system so entrenched, so deep, that to extricate myself from its illusions is a full-time job that does not pay. To extricate myself from the necessary illusions and downright lies of a white supremacist culture requires critical thinking and relentless self- and social-examination within a milieu that does not support that kind of reflection. At every turn, I was and am met with the message to look the other way. I was and am offered bribes in the form of the status quo. I was and am reminded of how good I have it.

And yet, the “good” that I have does not feel so good. It’s empty, inauthentic. It’s plastic and tarnished metal, rust. It’s a warm house and stocked fridge counterposed with belching fossil fuels wreaking climate change. It’s social neglect, and racism, and starvation, and war.

And so I dropped out. I pursued poverty, took minimum wage jobs with my college education, for years. And even my pursuit of poverty was inauthentic, because when, years later, I shifted back into the mainstream, that was possible for me. I was able to shift from service and retail work to social work. And I had the intention of working from within to create change. Yet the position I held was entrenched so deeply within the system that it was remedial. I was addressing a problem that had been created by complex forces of a dehumanizing economics, and my job was to assist in managing the problem.

The root of the problem is not being addressed. The root of the problem is not only an economics of dehumanization, but an overarching culture of dehumanization.

I have come to believe that people of conscience must work to create a whole new culture. I have work to do along with others who are repudiating a culture of dehumanization. This is deep work and has been going on since before the shores of the so-called New World were invaded by colonizers. It has been and is and will continue to be work of resistance.

We also must push beyond resistance into new territory. We must push beyond repudiation to replacement. We must build. We dismantle white supremacy and the larger culture of dehumanization to build something that we don’t yet have the words for, something that cannot be comprehended through the systems that we have. We have to build a new culture, a culture of love, not possession; a culture of union, not separation; a culture of cooperation, not competition. The culture that we build must be dynamic.

We have to be the work and pass the work to others and work with others and be willing to listen and see with the eyes of others. And this is hard work. This is real work. This is not a function of an economy, but a function of humanity. This is the work of being human and this is how we reclaim humanity from those who have, and do, and will continue to dehumanize.

We must first be human to have a human culture.