While watching the presidential election returns in November and disbelieving the results, this poem kept going through my head:
“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry
(Used with permission)
Love the quick profit, the annual raise / vacation with pay. Want more / of everything ready-made. Be afraid / to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head. / Not even your future will be a mystery / any more. Your mind will be punched in a card / and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something / they will call you. When they want you / to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something / that won’t compute. Love the Lord. / Love the world. Work for nothing. / Take all that you have and be poor. / Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace / the flag. Hope to live in that free / republic for which it stands. / Give your approval to all you cannot /understand. Praise ignorance, for what man /has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. / Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. / Say that your main crop is the forest / that you did not plant, / that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested / when they have rotted into the mold. / Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. / Put your faith in the two inches of humus / that will build under the trees / every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear / close, and hear the faint chattering / of the songs that are to come. / Expect the end of the world. Laugh. / Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful / though you have considered all the facts. / So long as women do not go cheap / for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy / a woman satisfied to bear a child? / Will this disturb the sleep / of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields. / Lie down in the shade. Rest your head / in her lap. Swear allegiance / to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos / can predict the motions of your mind, / lose it. Leave it as a sign / to mark the false trail, the way / you didn’t go.
Be like the fox / who makes more tracks than necessary, / some in the wrong direction. / Practice resurrection.
Wendell Berry is a renowned writer of prose and poetry, and an activist. Now in his 80s, Berry has given up the bright lights of New York and Palo Alto where he has taught and lives on a farm in Kentucky.
Berry is facetious when he writes “Love the fast profit. ... ” Yet that is what the public in the United States has elected – a man who has little care for the future, nor for people, but has entered politics to further himself and the cadre of the super-rich.
The next four years will be especially difficult for reproductive health issues. The new administration has pledged to get rid of Obamacare, which has put health insurance within reach of millions of people. One of its best benefits is the availability of contraception without a copay. Furthermore, the proposed health secretary is a foe of abortion.
There are actions bubbling up all over the country and they have already started locally. Dan Olson wrote about “Our 1st 100 Days”: “... a number of folks in the community are organizing a major campaign to combat the hate, fear and lies so common in this last election cycle by growing and invigorating local efforts to advance social, environmental and economic justice in our community.” For more information: www.our1st100days.us.
RESPOND is offering a day of free classes on Jan. 21. For more information: www.respond2017.weebly.com.
The worst global crisis is climate change. Durango has already responded with a chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby; https://www.facebook.com/DurangoChapterCCL/?fref=ts. CCL will be showing a video, “The Age of Consequences”, at both 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Feb. 15. It will be at the Vallecito Room of the Student Union Building at Fort Lewis College.
In mid-February, Truth to Power: Writers Respond to the Rhetoric of Hate and Fear will be available at Maria’s Bookshop. The scores of voices there, including Berry’s, collected and published by local writers Pam Uschuk and Will Root, can strengthen our resolve for the next four years.
If you are unhappy about the direction our country is headed, join with your neighbors to regain control. Participate in local actions!
Richard Grossman practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Durango. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. © Richard Grossman M.D. 2017