Friday, March 5, 2010


This one has been going around on Facebook and such

How do you answer this question? Kids are always asking why and sometimes it is just to get a rise out of you or some attention. But pleading at this level does demand some sort of response. I don’t see it so much as a song about the problems in the world as much as the story of a young person waking up from childhood and realizing there is evil in the world. Kind of like “Puff the Magic Dragon”, but more literal.

My answer to his question in song is “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen.

It has a hymm like feel to it, but Leonard is not religious. It points to a bright and warm world, but acknowledges the reality of that world. Here are Leonard’s comments on the meaning.

Cohen on Anthem

But that is just a pill for the symptom; the antidote to the song will require lifestyle changes and a lot more growing up. In one of my earliest posts, I mentioned the book “Blessed Unrest”. The author, Paul Hawken, does more than just talk about good things that people are doing around the world, he goes out and teaches other people how to see what can and should be done.

In one of his presentations, to an agro-chemical company, one of the participants said that there needed to “equitable distribution of resources as a prerequisite for moving to a more sustainable world. A VP retorted, “That is communism, socialism, it has nothing to do with ecology or the enviroment.” In the seminar, 60 engineers divided into 4 teams. Their task was to design a spaceship that could leave Earth and return in 100 years with its crew alive, healthy and happy.

The best one included weeds and fungi and small animals to enliven the soil. All of the things that the company was paid to kill. They found no room for any of their own products. They included artists and storytellers who would create culture, rather than just consume DVDs and MP3s. The question was asked if it was fair if 20% of the inhabitants received 80% of the fruits, vegetables and medicine. They all shouted down the idea, including the VP. Afterwards, some of the participants quit their jobs.

The idea of Earth as a spaceship was put forth by Kenneth Boulding a long time ago. It takes a while for culture to absorb an idea like this.

Boulding on Spaceship Earth

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