22 feb 09 Practice Resurrection

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.

... Practice Resurrection.

Resurrection. Recession. Reset.

That excerpt from Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry is framed in our Talkeetna outhouse; it's part of the decor in homage to nature, spirituality, and right living. When I read it this afternoon, I immediately connected it to two conversations we had with our friend Ellen this weekend. This morning she said she'd heard that our economy routinely needs a reset, and that's a less depressing word than depression. Last evening she was debunking the whole capitalist theory of the stock market and making money that you don't work for. She is a radical.

I looked up the entire poem and saw that Ellen and Wendell have thoughts in common.

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.

I wonder what would happen if our economy reflected the values that Wendell Berry espouses in this poem: long-term thinking, care for the Earth, care for each other, .... Would the world economy be plummeting now, would my co-workers be losing their jobs, would I worry about whether or not my 401k is going to fund my retirement ... if our society wasn't based on buying, buying, and making money?

If you're ready to become a radical resurrectionist, read Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry in its entirety.

jan 09 glimpses of Vietnam

the narrow buildings of Hanoi, a city packed with people and life

early morning around Hoan Kiem Lake, thousands of Vietnamese are exercising in hundreds of ways

graduates in traditional ao dai; so much lovelier than caps and gowns

the Chinese influence on Vietnam is strong

fishing boat in Halong Bay, World Heritage site

dec 08 - jan 09 Sins of Our Country Tour

I've been thinking about this post for 6 weeks, since the day we climbed to the cave where 500 people lived for 6 years during the Indochina War. I've hesitated to write because I'm not a student of history and might get facts about dates and alliances wrong. But the facts of war are all the same -- innocent people get hurt, killed, their lives shattered, their countries ruined. I was ignorant about the Vietnam War before this trip and didn't even know the U.S.'s role in the war in Laos. These topics weren't covered in my high school history class. All I knew came from Oliver Stone.

I'm convinced that Americans support wars because we can't picture the people who will be hurt. We give in to fear mongering and the idea that "they're out to get us." If we traveled more, we'd know that most of the people of Laos and Vietnam are just struggling to feed their families and get by. The same is true of central America and other poor countries where we have mucked around with governments, trying to get the structure or ruler that will be most beneficial to the US.

After visiting Laos and Vietnam, where we tried to fight communism on two fronts, it's hard not to think about our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we are trying to fight terrorism on two fronts. Laos and Vietnam both became communist, despite the money we spent and soldiers we sacrificed. What will happen in Iraq and Afghanistan? Al-qaeda and its ilk have had no more successful attacks on our soil, but can we say that we've reduced terrorism? We've overthrown truly brutal regimes, yet lawlessness, warring factions, and loss of basic services have plagued the citizens in these countries. How do we measure victory in places with cultures and histories that we can barely understand?

I don't have the solutions to these problems, but I'm convinced that War is not the Answer in the many places we've applied it. Maybe if we pictured the children in these countries, we'd reconsider sending in armed soldiers to address the problems and think about how aid for education and poverty elimination might gain us a country full of allies.