Putting it in perspective

When I left Asheville there was not yet an ecological disaster in the Gulf, nor was there a garden in my backyard.

After running across the country packing each day full of shows and reconnecting with loved ones scattered like seeds across the country, I can’t help but hope that the work we did through Poetry Alive! helped to provide some nourishment in these, well, interesting times.  I must say it was a relief to walk into schools this trip compared to the last time I was working on the west coast right after the Columbine incident. Everywhere we went both staff and students were grateful to see us and thirsty for the arts instead of scared of bomb threats. I was also reminded of how diverse America has become as I visited more schools where there is no longer a majority, but rather a rainbow of color, language, and culture. However, budgets are tight. Even though the arts and sports help bridge the gaps of culture and give students outlets for their own expressions, they are on the chopping block this season.

I’m worn down from 13,000 miles of road dust in the past month and really don’t have time to worry about much except the basics of food, shelter, sleep & how to turn the few dollars I made for the work we did into sustainable independence. Isn’t that really what we all need?

I was reminded in Lincoln, Nebraska, the heartland of America, that the essential part of the American dream is that if you work hard you will be rewarded. This doesn’t mean you figure out how you can scam the most money out of other people at the least cost to yourself. This doesn’t mean you run around blaming everyone else for making you miserable or expect that they owe you something.

If our government can’t figure that out, it is our duty as citizens to help them. In the words of Paul Freire, “Nobody liberates anybody else, and nobody liberates themselves all alone. People liberate themselves in fellowship with each other.”

My wish is that each of us stops playing the blame game and continues to develop those life sustaining attributes which allow us work together for a better tomorrow as we clean up the messes of yesterday.

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