The end of a song about a love between my brothers and my sisters…
Or really, not the end of the song at all. Mary Travers may be gone, but the song is still singing away.
A friend sent me this link yesterday: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies at 72. I know she lived long and well; I know she was probably very tired and ready. And I know when it’s my turn, if I can look back on my life and say honestly that I made even half of a percent as much difference for good in the world as she did, I’ll be content.
(But this is a green blog? Why is she blogging about this here? What did Mary Travers have to do with greenness?) (I’m glad you asked.)
(note: semi-political rant below…)
I grew up listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s music. First Peter, Paul, and Mommy, and then as I got older I pulled out my mom’s other records and played them to shreds. Blowin’ in the Wind. If I had a Hammer. Christmas Dinner. Light One Candle. Amidst the songs that were just fun I grew up with songs about freedom, striving, caring for others, and the deeply held belief that if we work together we can change the world. And then in 1993 there was Peter, Paul, and Mommy Too–with a song about migrant workers, a song in Bantu and a song in Spanish, songs about unity and justice and looking inside for what’s important, mixed with the songs about dragons and mermaids and childhood little league games. My children now know every lyric.
And it got me to thinking…I wonder, seriously, how many of us “green” types, stepping up to change our part of the world, taking control of what we can take control of and opting out of what we choose not to perpetuate, grew up listening to these songs, or songs like them?
What is justice, anyway? Social justice, environmental justice, forensic justice, what is it? (I’m glad you asked.)
In theological circles, justice is spoken of in terms of “right relationships,” having things and people in balanced relationship with one another. Balance. I think that’s a fairly good definition. And when we’re talking about balance, it’s not possible to compartmentalize and separate one kind of justice from another. When we buy underwear or party favors or electronics or almost anything, what we do affects the people on the other side of the world who manufacture them. When we talk about health care, it’s pointless to even try without examining what we eat, where it comes from, how (and whether!) it nourishes us, and whose justice might have been violated to get it to us. We can’t talk about laws and government without examining our own consumer habits and how what we do feeds or doesn’t feed the corporations whose best interest it is that the status remain quo. We can’t come together to fight for these right relationships without looking at the endlessly painful cycles of oppression, racism, sexism, ablism, and abuse all around us, and we cannot examine those without examining ourselves and taking a fearless inventory of how our own unconscious attitudes shape and mold us and perpetuate those cycles.
Ultimately, we can’t heal the planet without healing ourselves, and we can’t heal ourselves without healing the planet.
It’s all intertwined. Interconnected.
None of us, as individuals, can realistically jump in with both feet and change the system from the inside out. But we can pay attention, we can look at the things the Quo Status-ers would prefer we not look at, we can talk about them, and we can choose differently when and where we can. And others who see us do it can realize they have choices too, choices that Big Anything really can’t take from us.
Urban Chickens and Raising Chickens (and soon, Green Bean!) can’t, themselves, stop the inhumane treatment of chickens in Big Egg factories, but they can raise their own and blog about it–saying to anyone who reads it, “I choose not to be part of this.” The Conscious Shopper and countless other composty-folks can’t force the Wal-Depots to stop selling chemical-filled fertilizer, but they and their kids can adopt a bunch of worms to make their own much yummier stuff, or compost their yard and kitchen waste. The First Lady, even–and we remember what happened the last time a First Lady tried to Effect Change By Working the System early in her husband’s term (well, what happened is that 15 years later she nearly won the nomination and she is now Secretary of State, so :- PPPPPPPP)–she isn’t talking to Congress about Big Ag dominance, but she planted an organic garden in her front yard and is getting ready to start has started a farmers market. (Edit: Where was I? Literally as I was typing this the first time, the White House Farmers Market was making its debut–huzzah!)
Not civil disobedience this time–Consumer Disobedience. Enough of us calmly and rationally saying, “That’s enough, I choose to not take part in this, I choose something different” to shift the balance, overturn the system-in-crisis we’ve inherited from a world too long duped by the belief that there are no choices to be made, that there is only one way. Planting tomatoes as a revolutionary act. Stainless steel water bottles as weapons. (Not literally–though I expect one could bean someone pretty well with a full stainless steel water bottle. But that leads to assault charges and would be less than constructive.) (Ooh! That’s something I could use those giant zucchinis for, assault weapons! Then we could eat them and destroy the evidence! :-)) Shopping on the sly, buying secondhand in thrift stores or on ebay or by connecting with your community and passing things around one to the other, or bartering skills and goods with fellow revolutionaries. Buying local and organic whenever possible, and ignoring 80% of the grocery store aisles when one needs to enter it at all. Asking the questions, asking them loudly and without backing down when those afraid of the answers try to make us look like weirdos.
I listen to Mary Travers sing, and I realize it’s the same revolution–and we’re still asking the same questions.