“An imaginary island of ideal perfection.
An idealistic concept for social and political reform.”
In the mid-1960’s, before Lisa and Marc were born, Anne and I and another young couple in Toronto used to talk (well, it was mostly me doing the talking….but they listened politely) about finding, buying and moving to an island somewhere to set up our own society. Never did have the courage to seriously pursue that idea.
When our kids were small, we sometimes rented a cabin on the Frio River, west of San Antonio. Nearby was the small town (probably just a crossroads) of Utopia, Texas. I never drove into that town. I was afraid to. I didn’t want to have a vision of utopia other than the one in my mind.
Two of my regrets in life are….one, not taking a year off in the early 1980’s, while taking the kids out of school along with their textbooks and assignments, buying a big motor home and slowly driving across Canada, down the U.S. Pacific Coast, around the Gulf Coast and up the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic Coast seeing every museum along the way….and two, not taking a couple years and devoting them to actually finding that island and setting up our own society. In both cases, I just didn’t have the guts to step out like that. But, I can dream, can’t I!
For the love of a tree….go out on a limb.
For the love of the sea….rock the boat.
For the love of the earth….dig deeper.
For the love of community….mend fences.
For the love of the stars….let your light shine.
For the love of spirit….nurture your soul.
For the love of a good time….sow seeds of happiness.
For the love of nature….make compost.
For the love of a good meal….give thanks.
For the love of family….reconcile differences.
For the love of creativity….entertain new possibilities.
For the love of your enemies….suspend judgment.
For the love of yourself….acknowledge your worth.
And the world will be richer for you.
Charlotte Tall Mountain
Think of no one as “them”. Talk to strangers. Don’t confuse your comfort with your safety. Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels. Listen to music you don’t understand. Dance to it. Act locally. Learn a second or third language. Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture. Question consumption. Look for fair trade and union labels. Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown. Help build economies from the bottom up. Acquire few needs. Re-define progress. Visit people, places and cultures. Know your heritage. Know physical and political geography. Learn people’s history. Play games from other cultures. Watch films with subtitles. Honor everyone’s holidays. Know where your bank banks. Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too. Read the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Understand the global economy in terms of people, land, minerals, forests, oil and water. Question military/corporate connections. Have a pen pal. Don’t confuse money with wealth, or time with money. Never believe you have a right to anyone else’s resources. Be skeptical about what you read or hear. Eat adventurously. Know where your water comes from and where your waste goes. Choose curiosity over certainty. Question nationalism. Assume that many others share your dreams. Know that no one is silent, though many are not heard. Work to change this.
Below are things that get to me….sometimes with a chuckle….sometimes with a frown. ( Note: Everything below would be prohibited by our “New Society Constitution” in our Utopia.)
-car alarms in the middle of the night
-cold fronts said to “come from Canada”
-loud music pouring out of someone’s car
-no recognition for a job well done
-laugh tracks on stupid sit-coms
-people who use cell phones while driving
-when the toilet threatens to overflow
-working with or for a jerk
-shirt labels that irritate my neck
-people who spit
-die-hard Nixon or Bush supporters
-the Twinkie Defense
-able-bodied drivers who park in the handicapped spot
-traffic jams for no apparent reason
-having a customer service person argue with me
-celebrities who complain how hard it is to be rich and famous
-drivers who speed up when I want to pass them
-single-passenger cars in the car pool lane who don’t get caught
-frozen dinners that look nothing like the picture on the box
-fast food hamburgers that barely resemble their TV ads
-people who don’t return my call
-standing up when my foot is asleep
-seeing long lines at the ladies’ room
-TV commercials that are louder than the program
-stores that say “50% off” (Off what?)
-magazine mailing labels that obscure the cover
-flyers stuck under my windshield wipers
-lightning and thunder at 3am when I’m too sleepy to enjoy it
-businesses that take more than three rings to answer
-not getting a human receptionist when I call a business
-the salaries of athletes, movie stars and health care executives
-that life is not always fair
-when bad things happen to good people
-when good things happen to bad people
-motorcycles that go between traffic lanes
-moviegoers who talk or crinkle wrappers during the movie
-people who wear hats in restaurants
-“Lot Full” signs
-people who say “No can do”
-showing a close-up on TV of someone getting a needle
-never remembering if it’s “Feed a cold ….” or vice versa
-frantically trying to find the public restroom
in a huge shopping mall
-people who carve their names in trees
-motorcyclists who think it’s cool to make their bike go really loud
-people who believe anything they see in print,
on TV or on the internet
-that you need a license to cut hair, but not to be a parent
-that being stupid isn’t painful
-grapes with seeds
-people who cut into line and those who sheepishly let them get away with it
-dealership names on car trunks
-diesel fumes from the vehicle in front of me
-having to follow any vehicle that I can’t see over
-forgetting to first shake up the mustard or ketchup bottle
-when I just miss a green traffic light
-store clerks who don’t say “Thank you” for my purchase
-cheap, one-ply toilet paper in a public restroom
-people who have their phone calls screened
-trying to read a wet newspaper
-wrong-number callers who hang up without apologizing
-drivers who still think that the more
expensive gas is really better
-getting water up my nose in a pool
-plastic wrap that sticks to itself
-the screech of a knife or fork on a plate
-drinking fountains with not enough water pressure
-neighbors who don’t take care of their yard
-parking meters with a 15-minute limit
-gravel trucks in front of me on the highway
-people who give me an answer when they know they don’t know
-when I try to scratch an itch on my foot through my shoe
-a half-inch-wide space on a form asking for my full address
-high beam lights at night from the car right behind me
-clothing without pockets
-a parent walking along with their toddler on a leash
-when another lane moves faster than mine in really slow traffic
-being told “It’s company policy”
when it’s obviously stupid or unfair
-“Power”-prefixing an ordinary thing like a lunch or a tie
-scraping my finger tips or knuckles when grating cheese
-hearing someone in Baskin-Robbins ordering
plain vanilla or chocolate
-people who scratch their armpits in public
-people who walk their dogs without a leash
-executives of poorly-performing companies
who still get huge bonuses
-executives who get “golden parachutes”
while others get short notice
When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act
to prevent human misery rather than to avenge it?
True peace is not merely the absence of tension.
It is also the presence of justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
White folks don’t want peace; they want quiet. The price you pay for peace is justice. Until there is justice, there will be no peace and quiet.
In order that all people may be taught to speak the truth,
it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.
It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
Well-behaved women rarely make history.
Sojourner Truth. Eleanor Roosevelt. Katharine Hepburn. Sally Ride.
Susan B. Anthony. Harriet Tubman. Annie Sullivan. Gertrude Stein.
Coretta Scott King. Amelia Earhart. Lillian Hellman. Eartha Kitt.
Sacagawea. Golda Meir. Ella Fitzgerald. Dorothea Dix.
Louisa May Alcott. Billie Jean King. Emily Dickinson.
Lucy Stone. Margaret Sanger. Clara Barton. Billie Holiday.
Juliette Low. Elizabeth Blackwell. Rosa Parks. Lena Horne.
Beverly Sills. Barbara Jordan. Helen Keller. Indira Gandhi.
Agnes De Mille. Corazon Aquino. Gloria Steinem. Rachel Carson.
Joan of Arc. Babe Zaharias. Marlene Dietrich. Anne Frank. Simone de Beauvoir.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
Because woman’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious….and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do….and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it….and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches….and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man….and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy….and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical, weak females….and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural….and because we still can’t get an adequate, safe contraceptive but man can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion….and for lots and lots of other reasons we are part of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
I’m not a feminist, but….
I appreciate the right to help choose my government representatives.
I enjoy the option of wearing pants or shorts if I want.
I’m pleased that I was allowed to learn to read and write.
It can be very convenient to control how many babies I want to have.
It’s awfully useful to be able to open a bank account and own property in my own name.
I like knowing that my husband or boyfriend cannot legally beat me.
It’s really swell to keep the money that I earn.
No justice….no peace.
Know justice….know peace.
I believe in the brotherhood of all people, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.