I grew up across the street from an industrial park, a steel plant, a paint factory, a lumber mill, and glass factories. Pollution was a given, high cancer rates the result. I now live in a little piece of heaven on acres of trees with animals and gardens, sharing with people who prefer to pick up a hoe than a gun, cooking and eating delicious and healthy meals rather than chemically processed foods, welcoming all people to the table and putting personal peace above all else.
We cannot control what informs us, but we can control our choices – and if not the choices of where and how to live at least the choice of how we perceive.
I grew up as a late boomer, the tail end of evolutionary times, but I did make it to Washington, DC, with a couple of high school pals only to be driven by tear gas and police down the hallowed streets of our capitol. We were there to call out Nixon, his lies and atrocities, and to give notice to the rest of the world that we saw the puppetry and the strings and were no longer willing to play.
My father later confided that he had voted for Nixon. He had not told anyone. That would have been unpopular in the then Democratic union town. He had fought in WWII and lived in a time when our government respected our veterans and he in turn, respected the government. Eisenhower was a good man… Ah, loyalty.
But his young pup would never be able to share his unquestioning loyalty to the gov’t nor to the parties. For years I skirted politics, certain that there was nothing there. I did raise an eyebrow when all of my friends began to support Reagan. I said then and feel now that the choice to support Reagan was a choice of protecting one’s pocketbook and was a step towards division and away from unity. I stand by that.
As my generation continued the economic climb, the divisions grew. No longer were the majority willing to challenge the necessity of wars fought for oil or “freedom”, no longer did we stand up to the destruction of the earth by fracking, mountain top removal or a host of other assaults. No longer were we considered the harbingers of change or the ones who stood for peace.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn’t catch the loyalty bug. I didn’t forget Nixon or the taste of tear gas. I didn’t decide one side was all that much better than the other and as I witness our political landscape on the eve of repeating the same old same old, little has changed.
Except everything has changed. I have chosen to live in beauty. I have chose to steward land and protect it from capitalist profiteers. I have chosen to demonstrate the viability of a small sustainable and multi -faceted farm – and have chosen to do it in community and share rather than follow the antiquated, rugged individual model that has seldom worked. I am choosing to change myself first and watch the outside follow. And it is.
To my old and young friends who are wrapped in fear of tomorrow: ease up. Walk gently but courageously into that good night. Find your peace, find your way and fight like hell – not with guns and knives or sticks and stones – fight with the weapons given to us all – clarity, hope, integrity, choice, respect, kindness.
Give up on war. Find another way. Don’t believe the lies that tell us there is not enough food or that the sun can’t give us energy. Disprove them. This is our time. We are the antidote.