Sunday, June 8, 2014

a Rock, a River, A Tree: a Future?

Less than two weeks ago, one of our country's great voices fell silent. Yesterday, Maya Angelou's life and works were honored at a national memorial service. Her words and her voice spoke for social justice. Those of us who work toward a sustainable world know that an unjust society is not sustainable. That is why we worry and fret when we read headlines like these taken from today's Star Tribune:

(income inequality; social justice?)

NFL's Super Bowl demands ranged from ice to exclusive venues


(global warming; environmental justice?)

Oil pipelines run under fragile wetlands, waterways


(sustainable jobs?)

Hot issues, uneven growth have 8th District voters restless


(environmental justice?)

Species are disappearing faster than ever, scientist warns


a Rock, a River, a Tree: a Future?
a Rock, a River, a Tree:       a Future?                  © harrington

It seems that not enough of us heard, or heeded, Angelou's poem, On the Pulse of Morning, when it was read at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration. Perhaps our hearing was not what we would like it to be. Perhaps it wasn't clear why our Minnesota need be concerned with social and environmental justice. Perhaps today and tomorrow we need to try harder to listen for voices like Angelou's as, by our actions, we create our children's future.

from On the Pulse of Morning

By Maya Angelou 
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,   
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens   
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom   
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,   
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in   
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Facedown in ignorance,
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out to us today,   
You may stand upon me,   
But do not hide your face. 

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