Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day! Mayday! Mayday!

The White House, in the person of spokes Robert Gibbs, said, in reaction to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that threatens to outspill the Exxon Valdez, ""In all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last."

I expect that kind of irresponsible comment from a Big Oil spokesman like Dick Cheney or George Bush. I did not, I admit, see this craven level of anti-environment, pro-oil, proud-to-be-ignorant bias coming from the Obama White House. It totally reminds me of one of my favorite Lilly Tomlin lines, "I try to be cynical, but I can't keep up."

It is May Day, the day to join the green root of pagan and Earth-loving Beltane celebrants with the red root of the honor-the-workers day. Adding the khadi-white root of Gandhian mass nonviolence makes the day part of the peace calendar, which is what the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre has done in my hometown of Minneapolis for the past 35 years. (pictured here on May Day in Powderhorn Park)

Indeed, I remember one day in spring holding the door for massive Buffalo and Eagle and other puppets so the Heart of the Beast puppets could crash the appearance of James Watt in Minneapolis. We went in and were thrown out, but I was proud to be associated with my friends in their Beast personas. James Watt was the Reagan appointee to the Department of Interior, which may as well have been called the Department of Despoliation under his two-year tenure, 1981-1983.

The abysmal record of Watt was one we hoped would never be repeated, but Obama's record on the environment is shaping up to challenge even Watt and even the neocon oil shills appointed by G.W. Bush.

Time to reprise the Heart of the Beast and celebrate May Day like my buddy Terri, who is getting rid of her car today. That is the kind of real liberty that Gandhi was talking about; freedom to breathe better air, freedom from war over oil, freedom for the millions of birds and fish who won't be killed by future oil spills if enough celebrate like Terri is, and the independence of riding the bicycle, still the most efficient form of transportation over land ever devised. Gandhi would have included it in his Constructive Program were he organizing today. Indeed, Gandhi wrote about simple living and self reliance, independence and workers' rights in his volume, including this passage:

"Ahmedabad Labour Union is a model for all India to copy. Its basis is non-violence, pure and simple. It has never had a set-back in its career. It has gone on from strength to strength without fuss and without show. It has its hospital, its schools for the children of the mill-hands, its classes for adults, its own printing press and khadi depot, and its own residential quarters. Almost all the hands are voters and decide the fate of elections. They came on the voters' list at the instance of the Provincial Congress Committee. The organization has never taken part in party politics of the Congress. It influences the municipal policy of the city. It has to its credit very successful strikes which were wholly non- violent."

Let's work to make next May Day the vision of peace and clean water instead of this nightmare accepted by too many Americans from the top down.

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