I wrote this before Occupy Wall Street and now gratefully dedicate it to the occupiers, the occupied and especially to the pre-occupied everywhere.
Back in the day I hung out with the hippies and anti-Vietnam War protestors. Today we get a bad rap and are the butt of late night talk show jokes, but we were just trying to get back to the garden. Allow me to explain.
Many of my peers, privileged in all the materials ways, were products of white corporate America, but were disenchanted and alienated from that very privilege. Although they had material comfort, my peers were not comfortable with the other products of corporate America: wars, poverty, brainwashing advertising, gluttonous consumerism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, destruction of nature. Those stood in stark contrast against their privilege.
These were my friends, and though I did not have their economic security since my immigrant parents worked in factories, I understood their desire to be in “the garden,” a mythic place we not only dreamed of, but tried to create, a place where people came before possessions and profits, and hate took a backseat to love. So we quoted our troubadours Crosby, Stills and Nash, who sang “we are star-dust, we are golden and we’ve got to find our way back to the garden.”
We got close or there would not now be things like yoga studios, recycling centers, health food stores, women in pants or in a doctor’s coat, and bumper stickers that say “Arms Are for Hugging…”
But we just weren’t ready to go for the Whole Enchilada, our diet consisting of the Big Taco of Capitalism. One foot in the garden, we were seduced by the dollar and too many of us turned around and headed for a Walled Street where we wilted, grew cancers, and toppled like the Live Oaks in Florida.
Yesterday I read in the paper that an alarming number of live oaks are committing suicide. The giants are not being toppled by storms or vandals and look perfectly healthy from the outside. But the fact is they are killing themselves. It’s understandable. Those who were spared the uprooting, try their best to fit in to the denuded landscape of some gated community, but sometimes they get worn out by the effort. Even their smart attempts at adaptations –pushing the rotting part of their insides out into a big knotty tumor—fail. They succumb from the inside out because, like us, they cannot tolerate the unmitigated glare of sun. In the natural order of things the glare was moderated by shade cast by stands of their brethren. But isolated in some gated suburb or shopping center, they grow grotesque, heavy branches out sideways instead of up—as if they are reaching for their kin. The result is they finally rot inside and collapse from their unnaturally heavy branches and lack of symmetry.
We’ve left the garden far behind. We’ve grown crooked from grasping and unacknowledged loneliness. As D. H. Lawrence said about Western culture “…it is like an uprooted tree with its roots in the air. We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs…we are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal. We must plant ourselves again in the universe. “
- A Message to Corporate America (taoofwalking.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Together – What YOU Can Do On May Day – 19 April 2012 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)