Monday, September 03, 2007

C called and told me Ken Wilbur was being interviewed on KALW. I tuned in and listened--he's brilliant, yes, and what he has to say is important--but his interview was followed by an interview with Wangari Maathai (spelling?) the Kenyan woman who won a Nobel Peace prize a few years ago for inspiring her whole country (and the world) to plant trees.

Comparisons are odious, but I will make one anyway; Wilbur was talking excitedly, from his brilliant brain, about all the latest developments in our understanding of spirituality. Maathai was living spirit. When she spoke, it was with the deep rich voice of a tree.

She said, "It's hard work. You have to go down on your knees and plant the seed and water it and protect it." When she received the phone call from Sweden, telling her she had won the Nobel, that's what she did; rushed out to her yeard and planted a tree. It was the only way big enough for her to express her gratitude.

I was interested by Wilbur, but deeply moved by Maathai. She spoke to the questions I have about development in Africa, after coming back from Malawi, that is: if "development," offers an alienated, plastic-wrapped, credit-card driven existence, more convenient than the hard life of subsistence fishing and farming that people engage in, but less meaningful, I don't feel enthusiastic about helping fund it. If "development" means planting trees and honoring the environment, then I'll gladly give my money, time, and energy to the effort. That seems to me to be an unambiguously worthy thing to do.

After listening to that interview the phone rang again and it was David, my housemate, who is teaming up with two other guys to start a solar company. C and I agreed we'd put solar panels on the house as he moves in; David and company are ready to go. Next move is the garden--going out there and having the courage to break up the hard stony ground, and turn it over and plant greens in it--kale and chard, and other hardy plants.

I'll think of Jasch as I do it.


Anonymous said...

You are a wonder! I am hooking up for the first time with all of your work on your 'page and will go out and buy books. The poem you have about your mother and you ... I forgot me, but knew me more by the time I finished it and then sat ... full ... can't think of a better word--wonderful poem.

And you are funny--thanks so much for the parking lot essay!

Have a great day. Oh, and in response to this post: I read somewhere that four new trees a month per individual would replace our, what's the word? 'harm' we do, pollution we cause, whatever--the carbon footprint (I CARE a lot about the environment, but I KNOW the lingo better regarding other topics). Anyway, for Rosh Hashanah my husband and I buy trees for the year. We kept a pretty green household, but I am having the greatest time finding ways to be superb. It's fun and I sleep better.

You have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your poem, Looking for Work, in The Sun, especially the last line. Bravo! Teagrapple

Anonymous said...

alison - i enjoy reading your poetry in The Sun; you are gifted. (wish me luck, i just sent Sy two poems of mine!)

connected here, today, to your blog. i am an oakland resident as well...

take care.

winnie lee star