Tuesday, May 27, 2003


(This is for all of us who would rather not be part of what is happening in the world right now, and whose strongest impulse is to isolate ourselves from the pain of living this nightmare.)

I want you to speak the English right,
I want you to smile and be polite,
Say “B’wana—he no home”….
Michael Franks

Despite our best intentions to connect with others,
there are mornings when we don’t feel like opening the door to the world.
Isn’t it enough to ratchet the ceiling fan up to its highest speed—
slicing the air into the lisping of the waves in the bay below
and the fluid screed of Carlos Santana’s guitar?

Why swing the hinge and invite the tenants of Pandora’s Box inside?
Shrieking harpy gangs of petrocriminals are roaming the planet,
their mouths like nozzles of gasoline pumps guzzling the resources
of other countries and belching out hunger, violence and
“endemic diseases, such as death” (Hugo Chávez dixit).

Satellites rise with the sun in the east and watch us
make our first trip of the day to the bathroom;
agents with the souls of proctologists sniff through our e-mails,
probe our recorded telephone calls,
and examine our credit card transactions for purchases from terrorists—

thinking of ways to strip us of our citizenship.
Maybe in their very perversity they have hit upon
the right idea: instead of suffering the outrage
of marginality, let all of us pariahs and potential
terrorists become citizens of the earth!

As citizens of the earth we will have the responsibility
to go where our skills are most needed;
we will assume the mandate to root out plots
disguised as regime changes, and liquidate them;
we will need to tear down the barriers separating countries—

not by invading them, but by honoring their common
humanity—so that people can join in peaceful conjugation;
we will have to work tirelessly to heal the planet
so that it provides nurturance for all of us,
instead of being victimized by a few for their own gain.

Those are just a few of the tasks that we should have
been doing all along—before we became too repulsed
by the savagery of our species to open our front doors
and proclaim, as Fidel Castro did yesterday in Buenos Aires:
“What a lot of light there is here!”

Raven has had his beak out of joint because I was gone for three days to Oaxaca. One of my professors reported that Raven flew into his kitchen and stole topping items from the pizzas he was making to sell on the weekend. When I arrived home Sunday evening I found one of his feathers prominently displayed on the dining room table, and he was slinging a string of complaints at me from the roof. By tomorrow I hope he will have forgiven my absence—or the absence of his chief cook and bottle washer—and will be ready to talk to me about being a citizen of the earth….

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