Friday, August 15, 2008

Which Came First, the Human or the Misanthropy?

I spent the entire day yesterday reducing inventories of my stuff and in the process played a couple Utah Phillips cds. It was intended as just one of many quick samples ... keep this or sell it, but Utah commanded your attention and made you think and feel. I mentioned him a couple months ago after he died and I'll get back to him in a few paragraphs.

One thing people like me get told a lot is how much we hate people. You deep ecologists don't think humans occupy a special exalted place above all other life, and want billions of people to die. Or, why don't you silly animal lovers do something important? People are starving to death ... why don't you care about them?

Those people are starving to death in part because there are too many people on the planet, and in part because of choices. Usually not because of their own choices (they just happened to get born there) or because I care about an animal, but because of the choices of corporations, and governments, and individuals with McMansions, dozens of vehicles, and all sorts of other stuff and money they don't need. Recently I read about a guy combining two Boston buildings into a $23 million mansion a few blocks from where I worked for ten years.

Complain about something like that and you get called a commie. You're jealous, they worked hard for what they have, you wish you had it. I assure you, it's not envy, it's flat out disgust with both the individual and the nation which allows such behavior. And since those are the type of people who are considered successes in this culture, yes, it's true that I hate a lot of people and much of the civilization which surrounds me ... not because they're people but because of their choices, values, and actions. Heck, I often write about those feelings here; I'm certainly not going to deny them.

But it's also true that there are many people for whom I have great respect and admiration. I write about many of them here also: volunteers who risk their lives on Sea Shepherd's ships to try to save the lives of other beings, people who dedicate their lives to operating animal sanctuaries or get up frequently during the night to feed an orphaned bird, anyone who removes animals from a place of torture and finds a safe place for them, Henry David Thoreau for dozens of reasons. More animal lovers and misanthropists, you say, of course you like them.

Remember Utah? Let's get back to Utah, whose concerts I attended, who I talked with once after we'd both watched a street performer in Harvard Square. Scroll down here and read his obituary -- there's a man I admired who spent his life helping other people. Or there is Kip Tiernan, who I met when she was doing a public fast at Arlington Street Church, and is another person who helps people. These people, and those they help, are the type of people I respect. The suburbanites who complain about the homeless downtown -- those are the type of people I despise.

Walking Through Your Town in the Snow--U. Utah Phillips
I'm walking through your town in the snow.
I'm walking through your town in the snow.
I've got no place to go --
All the trains are running slow,
And I'm walking through your town in the snow.

It's getting late and all the bars are closed.
It's getting late and all the bars are closed.

I'm so cold I can't think --
I could really use a drink,
And I'm walking through your town in the snow.


Don't these little winter towns all look the same?
Don't these little winter towns all look the same
?
How the prairies winds they blow
When the mission doors are closed.
Now I'm walking through your town in the snow

I carry my home on my back.
I carry my home on my back
.
But the police only frown,
Every time I lay it down
And I'm walking through your town in the snow


There's some fellows jungled up by the yard.
There's some fellows jungled up by the yard
.
They're cooking up down there,
But I've nothing left to share,
And I'm walking through your town in the snow.


Maybe I can rustle up a job,
Maybe I can rustle up a job,
But there's nothing I can do,
My best working days are through,
And I'm walking through your town in the snow.


I don't ever think I'll find a way back home.
I don't ever think I'll find a way back home
.
I can see my golden years
Shining through these frozen tears,
I'm walking through your town in the snow.


I'm walking through your town in the snow.
I'm walking through your town in the snow.

I've got no place to go --
All the trains are running slow,
And I'm walking through your town in the snow.

I'm walking through your town in the snow.
(wind blows)

--from the excellent cd Loafer's Glory

1 comment:

Lisa J. said...

I chuckled to myself the other day just thinking about the irony of people criticizing me for criticizing the government. Do these people honestly think that the super-rich politicians (of either party) give a flying fuck about them? Do they think they're going to get a piece of this pie? Nope.

They are just a speck of dust, just like me, to the elite.

Women who happily proclaim they are "pro-life" and vote republican are going to be shocked when they walk into their doctor's office and are denied simple healthcare - surprise surprise, the government isn't going to make exceptions for republican women. We're all screwed.

I think the people of the deep south got a taste of this bitter pill when Katrina happened. Didn't matter that they voted Bush into office, they were treated like 2nd class citizens anyway.

Don't I care about starving people? Yeah, I do. That's why I make the choices I make. Keep shopping at Walmart, fuckheads, or how about put your money where your mouth is. Until then, shut the hell up.



(whoa, I'm on a roll tonight!!!)