Children of Privilege (2012)

It had been a routine Tuesday so far. I filed my reports for the morning, set the phone to forwarding, and headed down to lunch.  I was reading the international news in the Times – the paper version; old habits die hard, you know – when McGinnity joined me at the table.  We shared a few moments of standard pleasantries, and then a pause while he contemplated the beef Stroganoff on his plate.  “There might be a new threat out there, y’know,” said McGinnity.  A bit too casually.

I looked up from my coffee cup.  “Oh yeah?”  I couldn’t help but notice that McGinnity looked unusually distracted – his brow was deeply furrowed, all the way to the thin wisps of hair on his high forehead.  He wasn’t easily rattled; I’d known him for years, and seen him face down dangerous criminals, raving lunatics, even Congressional staffers – he was usually unflappable.  But I could tell that something about what he wanted to tell me disturbed him a great deal.  “So, what’s their beef, Ted? Middle East? Climate change?” I kept my voice sounding light and unconcerned.

McGinnity looked around a little bit, and hunched a little closer to the table as though he was wary of being overheard.  The background noise in the Agency commissary made that unlikely, but McGinnity always checked out all the angles.  That was one of the things that made him good at what he did.  One of the reasons I respected him.

“Their beef?  Vegetarianism,” he chuckled.  It was an old joke – but McGinnity wasn’t prone to cracking jokes unless something was making him uneasy.

“Actually, I shouldn’t say ‘new threat,’ like it’s some new cell of Wahhabists or something.  No, this seems to be a different kind of threat, Jim, we haven’t seen this before.   And it’s not one thing, not one issue, that’s driving it.  It’s – well, it’s the whole thing.”

He saw my puzzled frown.  “Just started getting aware of the full scope of this – been trying to find how widespread it might be before raising any alarms, wouldn’t want to raise a fuss over something insignificant, you know -”

“So what do you have so far?”

“Bunch of rich kids.  Well, rich families, I mean.  Upper class, upper middle, managerial, executive… American mostly, some European, some South Asians.  These kids – well, not kids anymore I guess, they’re in their thirties now, most of them…”

“Rich kids?  What, they read some Marx in college, they dropped out, grew their hair, all power to the proletariat, trying to shock the ‘rents?”

“No, no, that’s just it, they’re not just rebels.  In fact, they’re not ‘rebelling’ at all.  They’re being smart about it.”

He had my attention.  “Whaddya mean?”

“They’re working, mostly in their family businesses…”

“Family businesses?”

“Yeah.  Top-level corporations, private capital firms, law firms.  Pharma, finance, military contractors, IT.  These kids -” he shook his head, with a wry chuckle.  “I have to stop doing that.  These are not kids. Not at all.”  He shifted again, sat up straighter, looked at me with a strange intensity.  “These – people, they’ve looked around and decided they don’t really like what their fathers and mothers have accomplished.  This whole system we’ve built – they see exploitation, the systemic inequity, the abuse of workers, the environment, poverty… and they just refuse to accept those things as inevitable.  They’ve made up their minds, independently it seems, to take it apart.”

“The whole system? How?”

McGinnity hunched a little closer, and his voice took on a new note of urgency.  “From the inside, of course.  The way that only they can do it.  They’re leveraging the access they’ve been given, taking advantage of their stations in life.  They’re working their asses off, for now – doing exactly what they’re supposed to, following the rules, getting as close to the centers of power as they can… And then, at some point – they say they’ll know when the moment is right – they’re going to take down as much of the System as they happen to be able to lay their hands on at the moment.”

“Could they really do significant damage?”

McGinnity smiled, smiled as though it hurt to smile.  “Need I remind you, Jim, that it only took one young, unsupervised currency trader to almost take out the entire economy of France?”

He had a point there. “And do we know who they are?”

“No.  There’s no clue.  There’s no organization – there are documents circulating that lay out their program and describe their modus operandi, make suggestions, and that’s about it.  And even those documents have multiple variations – the instructions on distributing the information suggest that each person should make their own version, or multiple versions, to confuse anyone who might be watching.”

“Like us.”

“Yeah. Emails, letters, blog posts, comments on news stories, even poems, songs – they’re using a lot of different forms. Now of course just the fact that someone gets one of these emails or whatever, that doesn’t mean that they’ve bought in – and there’s usually no way to tell who’s passed on the information, or if they pass it on out of solidarity, amusement, or outrage.  There’s no way to distinguish them from their peers – not without doing some ugly kind of purge of the whole ruling class.”

“Well, we can make some guesses, can’t we?”

“Yeah, sure.  Like for instance – I’d bet that we’re probably not looking at people with families of their own.  You’re single, childless, you’re less worried about taking care of others — ”

This was the part of the process I liked.  “And if you’re attached to property, lifestyle, responsibilities, you’re less likely to rock the boat.”

“Right. But at the same time, you’re looking at people with access to extra resources.  They could make arrangements to get their own out of the way before any really serious disruptions happen.”

“Ah – what about lifestyles?  Do they eat organic, drive hybrids, give to charities, that kind of thing?”

“Hmmm.  They could.  But they have to fit in, being too different might not help their career goals.  And there are plenty of people who make those kinds of behavioral changes who aren’t interested in bringing about a fundamental and wide-ranging restructuring of society itself.”

I let out a long breath.  “Sounds dangerous. They have access to information, they know which switches to throw, they know where the bodies are buried — ”

“It gets worse.  Part of the program is that as they rise through the ranks, they’re keeping track – they identify the people in the System who, you know, who they think are the most rapacious, the greediest, the most aggressive — the people that to them embody the worst qualities of the System.”

“You mean the ones who are the real go-getters? The alpha males, the queen bees?”

McGinnity looked at me for a long moment.  “You could say that, I guess.”

“Keep track?  What for?”

“To ‘neutralize’ them.  Whatever that means.  It might mean just to keep those people away from power, divert them into harmlessness…”

“Or worse?”

“I don’t think they’re plotting assassinations, no.  They seem to think they can do this nonviolently… but you know how that goes, there’ll be a fringe, some will go outside the guidelines — I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some kidnappings, disappearances, manufactured scandals…”

“But they’re responsible, too, aren’t they?  They’ve benefited themselves, right?”

“Yeah, sure – they claim they’re expiating some of their guilt.”

“By taking the System down? They have some replacement ideas in the pipeline?”

“Nope – they say that’s someone else’s job, they can’t see alternative futures from where they sit, all they can see is that the present doesn’t work and isn’t likely to get better.”

“But there are -”

“Oh, sure, there are lots of people out there thinking about new kinds of systems, Jim, absolutely, but most of them are outside the structures we’re talking about.  I’m talking about people within deeply entrenched centers of power, the ones that you would think would have a lot to lose from any kind of meaningful social redesign.”

I started putting things together.  “So we have some informal leaderless network of self-radicalized upper-class workers, maybe threats to – what, infrastructure, distribution systems, maybe individual lives if things get desperate…? But we can’t infiltrate them, we can’t surveil them ’cause we don’t know for sure who they are and they’re operating in exempt circles anyway… can’t disrupt them without economic risks…”

“Right. The rest of the class would never stand for anything that might actually be effective.”

“Like… our bosses, for instance…?”

“Nah, more like their bosses.”

I sat back in my chair.  The implications…. yeah, they were disturbing. I could see why McGinnity would be loath to escalate the issue until he was more certain about it.

“Well, the thing would be to keep them from picking a moment, then?” I said.

“I guess that’s all we can do.  Building in more redundancies wouldn’t be a bad idea – but you know how the money feels about that, anything affecting commerce – ”

“That – but if the word got out about them, you think some of their potential targets might behave better?”

He smiled that pained smile again.  “Well, there might be a silver lining there,” he admitted. “Fear of God and all that.”

“This group have a name?”

“Some of the emails are signed, or addressed to, ‘the Children of Privilege,'” said McGinnity.  “They also have another name for themselves.”

“What’s that?”

“‘The Sins of the Fathers,'” he said.  “You done?  Let’s get back upstairs.”

“Good idea,” I said.  I started to reach for my tray, and stopped.  “Tell me one thing, though -”

“Yeah?”

“What is it, Ted – I can tell, we’ve worked together for a while, and I can tell this is bugging you, more than usual – ”

“Yeah,” he said, with a sigh.  “Yeah, you’re right.”

“So?”

“I was thinking about Brent -”

“Your son? He’s not involved, is he?”

“Oh, no, not at all, so far as I know – but remember when he did that Peace Corps stint?”

“Yeah, you said he really liked Togo -”

“Oh, he did, best experience of his life, he says – so he went into International Relations in college, you know, minored in Finance, interned with the World Bank, he’s still in Brussels on that consulting gig now… And we talk, you know, he kinda knows what I do, he’s alright with that, but we do have some discussions sometimes, we disagree on a few things, but he’s no radical. But I keep thinking about the things he told me, the things that he’s seen –

“And you know what? Just between you, me, and the microphone in the salt shaker… part of me says they might have a point.”

We stood, picking up our trays. Gotta clean up your own mess, after all, that’s what they always taught us.

“Thanks for the heads-up, Ted – and, uh, if you want, forward me what you’ve got, OK?”

“Yeah, you bet,” said McGinnity.  “I’ve got a lot of emails to send out.”

The Peace and Justice Files: Get In The Way (2006)

(My “Peace and Justice Files” column from March 2006, updated)

People are sometimes surprised to find out that although I’m a Quaker and a pacifist, I study a martial art. I hold a black belt in aikido, which focuses not on attacking others, but on defending oneself by redirecting or otherwise neutralizing an attacker’s force, transforming the situation from conflict to harmony. The many connections between peace/nonviolence work and aikido are fodder for a whole other essay, if not a book – but recent events make me want to look at one question in particular.

It’s one thing to be able to defend your own self from attack – but how do you respond when the subject of the attack isn’t yourself, but someone else?

It’s kinda obvious: you have to draw force away from the victim, and onto yourself. Or, in other words: you have to get in the way.

“Get in the way” is the motto of Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org).   CPT came into the spotlight in 2005, when four of their members, including American Tom Fox, were abducted while working in Iraq.  Little was heard about their situation for weeks; then a videotape was released showing three of the hostages, but not Fox – whose body was found shortly afterwards. Some commentators have called him and CPT “misguided,” or said that he “failed” – but they fundamentally misunderstand what Fox and his compatriots are trying to accomplish, and ignore the successes they are having.  For it’s not enough to draw force onto yourself – that’s just the beginning.  You then have to transform that force –  and Tom Fox and his supporters have done just that.   Though the media have reacted with bewilderment at the idea, they responded to Tom’s death not with calls for revenge but with “a force more powerful” – love and forgiveness – and have set an impressive example for the world to witness, and perhaps even to emulate.

Rachel Corrie, who worked with the International Solidarity Movement, was another person who “got in the way” – in her case, she got in the way of an Israeli bulldozer that was demolishing the home of a Palestinian family.  A play about her life, “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” that was going to be performed at a New York theatre to commemorate the third anniversary of her death, was cancelled, apparently under strong political pressure.  In response, events sprang up across the country to spread Rachel’s message;  see this memorial website for more information.

And nearly a year ago, on April 16, 2005, Marla Ruzicka of CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, www.civicworldwide.org), an activist who worked to support those caught in the crossfire in Iraq, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

I’d like to suggest that humanitarians like Marla, Tom, and Rachel, who give up their lives in the service of others, should be recognized – though of course they would never have sought such recognition for themselves – with something on the order of the Presidential  Medal of Freedom, and/or its Congressional equivalent, the Congressional Gold Medal.  I feel strongly that we need to spread the idea that there are other possible responses to conflict besides more  violence, responses that are meaningful and that make a difference.  We have to encourage society to honor sacrifices like thosemade by Tom, Rachel, and Marla at least as much as the sacrifices of those who fall while carrying arms.

It’s ironic that media coverage of Tom Fox’s death was quickly shunted aside by the death of Slobodan Milosevic, one of the more brutal humans to come down the pike in recent years.  We have to ask, what do we want – more Tom Foxes, Rachel Corries, and Marla Ruzickas… or more Slobodan Milosevics?  If the former, then we have to make sure that their message is heard, again and again, and that their courage is not forgotten.  And we have to be ready ourselves to get in the way.

GAGA DREAM

GAGA DREAM
(Based on “Yma Dream” by Thomas Meehan)

(SCENE: A psychiatrist’s office. The DOCTOR is sitting in a chair. The PATIENT enters.)

Doctor:    Welcome, Mr. Murgatroyd. Please, come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable.

Patient:    Thank you, Doctor, good to see you.

Doctor:    So, Mr. Murgatroyd – you look a bit tired – have you been sleeping well?

Patient:    Well, no, Doctor – I haven’t. My dreams…

Doctor:    Ach, yes, the anxiety dreams are back, eh? I remember last time, you were telling me about a dream you were having, about college…?

Patient:    Yes, Doctor – I dreamt I was a college professor, and I was giving a final exam, but no one in the room had actually taken my course…

Doctor:    And has that dream recurred?

Patient:      No, Doctor – this is a different one I’ve been having lately. (takes out notebook)

Doctor:    Ach, I see you have been keeping a dream journal! Excellent idea!

Patient:    Yes, Doctor – as you will see, this is a very confusing dream, so I had to write down what I could…

Doctor:    Of course. So, please proceed….

Patient:    Well, Doctor, in this dream, I am hosting a dinner party in my apartment.

Doctor:    Ah, good! Continue! (to himself, pleased) Subject is working on his social anxiety…

Patient:     This is a dinner party for the famous singer, Lady Gaga.

Doctor:    Gaga?

Patient:    Gaga.

Doctor:     I see. (to himself, slightly more concerned) Subject is working on childhood anxiety, possibly repressed infantile trauma…

Patient:    No, Doctor, that really is her name, her stage name, that is. But that’s the strange thing about this dream, I don’t know Lady Gaga, and my apartment is certainly no place for a dinner party. But there we are, and she seems very comfortable there. In the dream, apparently, she knows me well, as does everyone else.

So I am putting out the snacks – Fritos, Cheetos, and Ho-Hos…

Doctor:    Ho-Hos? Where did you get those?

Patient:    The Ho-Hos? From Wawa’s.

Doctor:    I see. Go on. What did you have to drink?

Patient:    Among other things, iced tea, Pepsi, and Hi-C.

Doctor:    Of course.

Patient:     So as I am setting out the Fritos, Cheetos and Ho-Hos, the doorbell rings. I open the door, and I see two people there. It is Viggo Mortensen, the handsome star of “Lord of the Rings,” escorting the pop star Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known as Iggy Azalea.

I bring them inside. “Lady Gaga,” I say, “I am pleased to present Mr. Viggo Mortensen and Ms. Iggy Azalea.”

“Oh, please, let’s not be so formal,” says Lady Gaga. “First names only. And do please always call me Gaga.”

“Okay,” I say. “Gaga, Viggo. Gaga, Iggy. Iggy, Viggo – Gaga.” Iggy and Gaga immediately launch into an animated conversation about Liza Minelli and Milli Vanilli.

The doorbell rings. The next guests have arrived.  The actress Uma Thurman enters, dressed in her yellow jumpsuit from her amazing performance in the “Kill Bill” movies. Her date is the former NFL quarterback Norman Esaison – or as he is better known, “Boomer.”

I bring them into the living room, where Viggo is talking to Gaga about the record she made with Tony Bennett, where they covered “Mony Mony” and “Boney Maroney.”

“Gaga!” I say. “Here’s Uma and Boomer. Gaga, Uma – Gaga, Boomer. Uma, Boomer, Viggo, Iggy!” I chuckle when I say this, but no one seems to see any humor in what I have said. But it’s only a brief moment of awkwardness, which I defuse by deftly passing around some Ho-Hos.

The doorbell rings.  Two distinguished elder gentlemen are at the door – but they are dressed in bowler hats and shabby coats. I suddenly realize that I am looking at two of the most accomplished actors of our time, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, and they are in costume from their recent Broadway stint in Samuel Beckett’s classic “Waiting for Godot,” where they played the tramps Vladimir and Estragon – or as they call each other… (pause)

Doctor:    Yes?

Patient:    “Didi” and “Gogo.”  “We’re in character,” Sir Ian whispers to me as we walk in. “Please introduce us as such.”

So – I do so. “Gaga – Didi, Gogo. Didi, Gogo, Uma, Boomer, Iggy, Viggo.” Viggo, of course, gives Sir Ian a big hug, and everyone gives Sir Patrick the Vulcan salute. But since they’re in character, they pretend to not understand.  This makes for some uneasiness.  “Ho-Hos, Gogo?” I say. “Iced tea, Didi?”

Fortunately, the bell rings.

Standing before me is the Prime Minister of the State of Israel – Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu himself. He has two bodyguards. The other man also has two bodyguards. I realize that this is none other than hip-hop mogul Sean Combs…

Doctor:    You don’t mean…

Patient:    Yes, Doctor, it was – Bibi and Diddy.

Both men try to enter the door first. They collide, then step back and glare at each other, and the bodyguards snap into position. But Gaga saves the day. “Diddy!” she shouts, and Netanyahu has the grace to yield. Gaga gives him a big hug too, and she leads them into the living room, one arm over each one’s shoulder.

“Well, Gaga, I see you know — “ I start to say, but she interrupts me.

“Now don’t be silly, please, do your hostly duties!”

“Gaga, Bibi – Gaga, Diddy… Bibi, Diddy, Gogo, Didi, Uma, Viggo, Boomer, Iggy…” I am not sure how many more people are coming or how many more will fit into my living room.  I see Cheeto dust everywhere, and I step on a Ho-Ho. I realize at that moment that I am for some reason wearing the flimsiest of flip-flops. “Would anyone like some Hi-C?” I ask, as the doorbell rings.

In the hallway, all the bodyguards are slumped unconscious against the wall. In their midst is a skinny gentleman of South Asian heritage. It is Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana and a Republican candidate for President. He is carrying a ventriloquist’s dummy. With horror, I realize that the dummy is none other than Dobby the house-elf from the Harry Potter movies. Dobby’s head turns towards me and says in a strangely accented voice, “No one touches the dummy.”

I escort him – them – to the living room. “Look, everyone, it’s Bobby and Dobby!” All those faces turn to me at once, and I stagger from the force of their glare. There is nothing to be done.

“Gaga, Bobby – Gaga, Dobby. Bobby, Dobby, Bibi, Diddy, Gogo, Didi, Uma, Boomer, Viggo, Iggy…”

Gaga hits on Dobby immediately. It occurs to me that the party is suffering from serious gender imbalance.

The doorbell rings. I turn towards the door, but it seems to be receding away from me, and it takes me forever to reach it. This may be because my flip-flops are sticking to the shag carpet.  I open the door to greet Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, and veteran NPR reporter Cokie Roberts.

As I bring them in to meet the others, I ask them what they would like to drink. “Coffee,” says Cokie. “Cocoa,” says Kofi.

But first I must make the introductions. “Gaga, Cokie, Kofi – Kofi, Cokie, Diddy, Bibi, Didi, Gogo, Uma, Boomer, Iggy, Viggo, Bobby, Dobby…” (cries)

Doctor:    Here, would you like some water?

Patient:    (recovering, but bewildered) No, no, I’m OK… but in the dream, things are getting out of control. Didi – Sir Patrick – and Viggo are arguing with Bobby and Dobby about someone called Jar-Jar. Gaga and Iggy are singing “Gimme Dat Ding” with Diddy sitting in on didjeridoo.

Suddenly, the door bursts open. There in the hallway is a short Japanese woman, and a tall Korean man. He is carrying a cello. She is carrying bagpipes.

The guests fall silent, and all step back respectfully as Yoko Ono enters the room, silent and regal, accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma.

Gaga steps forward, wordlessly, her eyes full of tears, and embraces them both.

Then everyone turns to me.

“Gaga – Yoko.” I stammer.

“Gaga – Yo-Yo.”

My tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth. I fear I may have eaten one Ho-Ho too many. My stomach churns. My knees buckle. But then, I lock eyes with Dobby – and something about those sad, fake eyes gives me courage. I take a deep breath:

“Yo-Yo, Yoko, Didi, Gogo, Uma, Boomer, Iggy, Viggo, Diddy, Bibi, Bobby, DOBBY!”

The room erupts in applause – just as the bell rings again. I am exhausted. I stagger to the door. With my last ounce of strength, I open the door –

Doctor:    Yes? Who is it? Who could it be?  Oprah Winfrey? Margaux Hemingway? Marco Polo? ELMO?

Patient:    No Doctor – It’s YOU – Doctor Helmut Siegfried Messerschmidt von Zittlefritz – and I have never been so happy to see anyone in my – entire – life.

And then I wake up. Thank you Doctor, see you next week! (Exits)

Remembering Live Aid

It’s been thirty years since the age of the modern benefit concert was launched by Bob Geldof’s seminal “Live Aid” extravaganza, and reminiscences are popping up all over the place. I remember it a little differently, though – I remember it as a spiritual battle, one where the good guys generally lost.
We have to keep in mind that Live Aid took place in the middle of the reign of Ronald Reagan, who had won re-election the previous fall in a stunning nationwide landslide over the hapless Walter Mondale. Reagan’s brand of conservativism was in full ascendancy.  These were the days when greed was good and ostentatious materialism held sway in America, the days of the Yuppie and the cocaine spoon.
As I recall, there was some hope that Live Aid might bring about some kind of reawakening of the Woodstock spirit, to counter the dominance of crassness and cynicism, but it was not to be.
I remember Joan Baez trying to start things off on a spiritual note by getting everyone to sing “Amazing Grace” together… but after two verses, you could see her reading the crowd and thinking “This isn’t working.” So she shifts into singing “We Are The World,” but you can tell from her face that it wasn’t what she had planned.
I remember U2, broadcasting from Margaret Thatcher’s London, also trying to awaken the conscience of the party-minded crowd, but Bono sees something else lurking there instead – that’s why he launches into “Sympathy for the Devil.”
I remember Bob Dylan performing, flanked by Keith Richards and Ron Wood from the Stones, looking for all the world like he’s under guard lest he try anything too revolutionary — and I remember Keith upstaging Bob by fiddling with mounting his cigarette on his guitar properly.
I remember Paul McCartney’s performance of “Let It Be” – even though his vocals didn’t seem to make it through to the broadcast for some reason.
I remember the crowning moment being, not the final performances of “We Are the World,” but the hip-grinding duet between the oversized egos of Tina Turner and Mick Jagger.
It wasn’t all bleak; there were some more optimistic points. I enjoyed seeing Madonna singing backup on “Revolution” with the Thompson Twins. She was clearly enjoying herself, and I imagined that being part of an event where the point was something bigger than herself might have done her some good.
But the key experience of the day for me didn’t take place on stage. As it happened, we were in Columbus, Ohio that day, visiting our friends Shashi and Rainu from India. As we watched the performance together, the phone rang, and Rainu answered. It was some of their kinfolk calling from Delhi. “Oh really?” said Rainu. “We are watching it too!”
For one brief second, I felt the connection in my gut: the phrase “We Are The World” made visceral sense.

Commemorating Rush Limbaugh

Like him or hate him, you gotta admit that few Americans have had the impact on our political and cultural life that Rush Limbaugh has had. Now that he is reaching the end of his career, as well as the end of his days on Earth, I think it’s important that his contribution be recognized in a lasting and appropriate way.

I would therefore like to suggest to the medical community that pilonidal cysts, which as you may know kept Limbaugh from serving in the armed forces, be rechristened “Limbaugh’s disease,” and the cysts themselves be referred to henceforward as “Limbaughs.”

For example:

“Geez, Doc, what is that thing? Hurts like the dickens! And what a bad smell!”
“Well, Sam, I’m afraid you have a severely infected Limbaugh.”

“I had a really bad case of Limbaughs, but the surgeon did a great job, and now you’d hardly know they were there.”

“You need to get out of your chair from time to time, or else you might get a Limbaugh.”

All things considered, I think this is the least we can do, don’t you?

Song While Dying

song while dying

……………D
I hear the calling
…………….A
I hear the knocking on the door
…………..D
I fear I’m falling
…………………A
Soon I won’t be here anymore
………………..G
In these few moments
………….A
there’s far too much to say
………………..D
a song while dying
………A
will pass the time away

(chorus)
If you can’t see me
then feel me in your heart
if you can’t hear me
still believe me when I say
I will be watching
if that is possible at all
I will be watching
if there is any way

This separation
Just a temporary thing
Our preparation
For the joy forever brings
This place I’m leaving
Soon you’ll be leaving too
So in your grieving
Perhaps these words can comfort you

(chorus)

ACRES OF GREENS

I wrote these lyrics quite some time ago. The line “Sunflowers die in November” actually harks back to the presidential campaign of Alf Landon — but in the present context, it refers to the fact that even if Greens don’t win electoral campaigns, those campaigns still serve to spread our ideas around… and that is what’s really important in the long run.

The tune “Rosin the Beau,” of course, was also used as the base for the anti-nuke anthem “Acres of Clams,” written by Charlie King back in the days of the Clamshell Alliance’s campaign against the Seabrook nuke in New Hampshire.

ACRES OF GREENS
(tune:”Rosin the Beau”)

I’ve lived all my life on this planet
No other for us has been found
But we’ve taken our garbage & crammed it
In the water the air & the ground

The water the air & the ground
The water the air & the ground
We’ve taken our garbage & crammed it
In the water the air & the ground

The Earth & her creatures that suffer
You know they don’t suffer alone
When more people are finding life rougher
Being harried & worked to the bone

Harried & worked to the bone
Harried & worked to the bone
More people are finding life rougher
Being harried & worked to the bone

Our culture could use some reformin’
Its values, its ends and its means
So a new grassroots movement’s a-bornin’
That goes by the name of The Greens

That goes by the name of The Greens
That goes by the name of The Greens
A new grassroots movement’s a-bornin’
That goes by the name of The Greens

Of The Greens I am proudly a member
Green Parties are sprouting like weeds
They say “Sunflowers die in November” –
But not without spreading their seeds

No, not without spreading their seeds
Not without spreading their seeds
They say “Sunflowers die in November” –
But not without spreading their seeds

Now politics can disillusion
Where nothing is quite as it seems
But I think I have found my solution
Surrounded by Acres of Greens

Surrounded by Acres of Greens
Surrounded by Acres of Greens
But I think I have found my solution
Surrrrrrrrrrrrrounded by Acres of Greens