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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Sunday night, I stayed up late. I stayed up until 10:00, which is late for me. As a result, I listened to a radio show I don’t normally get a chance to, The Road Home, on CKUA. I like the show, because the host, Bob Chelmick, plays eclectic music, reads poetry, and uses readings of poetry.

It appears we share a love of Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry‘s poetry with him, as he often highlights their poetry. On Sunday, the host had a reading by Wendell Berry of Manifesto: The Mad Liberation Front. There is too much in this poem for me to do justice to unpacking it. It speaks to the moment we are experiencing. How we got here is by taking shortcuts and ignoring the inequities in those shortcuts. We sacrifice community, certainty, and care for one another for quick profit, the ready made, and a lack of mystery in our lives.

I remember reading this poem for the first time and realizing how much we sacrifice for the “good life,” instead of appreciating what we have in our daily lives.

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

The health crisis reveals gaps in ,many forms of equity: gender, race, ethnicity, class, etc. The environmental crisis is doing the same thing as fires rage out of control. I love the last line: practice resurrenction. Rise up and live life in meaningful and ethical ways.

Although it is often referred to as the African-American National Anthem, I think Lift Every Voice and Sing speaks to what we need in today’s world. We need to join voices and hands to enact our words in concrete ways and make the world a better place.

 

About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

14 responses »

  1. Thanks. Keep safe Smile It is a great day

    *ROY FANTHOME*

    On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 7:03 AM Teacher as Transformer wrote:

    > ivonprefontaine posted: “Sunday night, I stayed up late. I stayed up until > 10:00, which is late for me. As a result, I listened to a radio show I > don’t normally get a chance to, The Road Home, on CKUA. I like the show, > because the host, Bob Chelmick, plays eclectic music, reads p” >

    Reply
  2. Agreed, we do need unification now more than ever.

    Interesting ‘hit’ when reading the poem, though: this appreciating where we’re at vs. … looking to ‘attain and maintain the good life.’ “Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit.” Yes. I do love Wendell Berry and listen to him on audible quite often.

    Here we are with all we have yearned for; a return to simplicity and sustainability. But it has been many years since we’ve had the luxury(!) to enjoy that very thing, and it’s been unsettling at times for both of us. One day when I carve out the time for it, I will write more on this. I don’t know how we got on that merry-go-round, but we did. For years. I think it began with raising the girls and their needs and desires which became more important than our own. In any case, this post hit home. Settling into simplicity, once again, returns us to our roots in a profound way. Grateful for it. Waiting for winter and the feel that ‘this is time’ for inward reflection. Fifteen years in Hawaii left us bereft of that seasonal flow.

    Aloha, Ivon.

    Reply
    • For a person who spent time in Maine (?), it would be a shift to embrace the lack of obvious seasonal change.

      I agree Bela. I have privilege and comfort. Kathy and I worked hard for it and make sure the boys and their families receive some benefit. I think you are right about the raising of a family. It is consuming and important. When we look up, we recognize how complex the world is, without simple or, as one person put it, facile solutions.

      I can only be in this moment, temporally and spatially. I think that is what great poets remind us of.

      Reply
  3. I love Bob Chelmick at 5am too…wonderful post again Ivon…thanks for sharing ~ sending writing vibes ~ smiles hedy ☺️🤓💫

    Reply
    • We went to a Rambling Jack Elliot concert a number of years ago and CKUA sponsored. Bob Chelmick introduced the acts. The opening act was Corb Lund, who I had heard a bit and have grown to enjoy his music since. Rambling Jack left a lot to be desired, but Corb stole the show. I have listened to CKUA non-stop since.

      Like Parker Palmer’s writing introducing me to new authors, CKUA has introduced to new acts I would not have heard on any other platform.

      Several years later, we went to a Corb Lund concert. The next day students stopped me in the hallway and asked if that was me there. I said yes and they wanted to know if I was OK with his swearing. I told them I play and coach hockey, so it I had heard much worse.

      Take care and enjoy Hedy.

      Reply
  4. “The health crisis reveals gaps in ,many forms of equity: gender, race, ethnicity, class, etc. The environmental crisis is doing the same thing as fires rage out of control. I love the last line: practice resurrection. Rise up and live life in meaningful and ethical ways.”

    Amen! 🙂

    Reply
  5. I never knew Lift Every Voice until the mid 80s. I went a little crazy and left the west for Kansas City and stayed there a number of years. I had a job working in the city with different neighborhoods and neighborhood organizations.
    I worked a lot with several different Black neighborhoods and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that song! I heard it at many meetings I attended and in many church services I attended.
    It’s a difficult song to seeing as it switches to high and low notes quite often. But I became proficient at singing it and even had most of it memorized.
    And you’re right, it’s a beautiful song that we could all use today.

    Reply

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