Sunday, May 22, 2011


Whether we are subjugating people to serve as a coaling station for our fleet of warships (as we did in the Philippines 111 years ago) or looking for nonexistent WMDs in a nation that happens to hold enormous proven reserves of oil or mining our own coal to fuel electricity when the sun, wind and water could give us all our power forever without pollution, we are attacking the web of life to sustain an unsustainable way of life. We do it to the Earth and we first destroy it (as John Prine sings), then pave it (as Joni Mitchell sings).

by John Prine
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

Backwards isn't always a negative, if looking backwards can help us remember how beautiful our home is and how we can practice living to preserve it instead of use it all up and turn it ugly and toxic.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Peabody Coal Company leveled mountains, turned creeks black and gave miners fatal lung disease. Our nuclear solution just gives cancer and birth defects. Our oil is rapidly flipping from economic engine to economic destroyer even as it undermines our ecology.

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Repeat Chorus:

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

Repeat Chorus:

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

Repeat Chorus:

Prescient Prine, one of the most sensitive, humorous, insightful and humble bards I've ever seen, wrote many other great songs, anthems of a generation. I awoke this morning with Paradise in my head and needed to reflect with you about it. Let us all reflect and then act to save what we can of Paradise.

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