Yesterday was Yom HaShoah;
today is Earth Day. Not like any other
Earth Day that's been since first that holiday
was called, in 1970. I remember
the poster that appeared then, with a picture
of Earth as seen from space, in black and white,
and underneath, the words "Your mother needs you."
That was exactly fifty years ago.
Since then, that image of the earth from space
has served quite different purposes, as logo
for many a global enterprise -- was used
by some, to symbolize a mode of living
(if you can call it that) that knew no borders
and held, except for profit, nothing sacred,
that had both nature and the human soul
under its fist.
This year, all that is checked
somewhat. The planes stand idle on the runways,
the roads are clear of traffic between cities,
the people are enclosed in their own houses,
some with their families, some with their thoughts.
And at the same time, everyone is conscious
that all around the globe, the Family
of Man are huddled in their personal spaces
beneath the shadow of the selfsame wing,
and perhaps thoughts are traveling between minds
by paths that are not only electronic.
It is an hour of danger, and of hope.
Yes, in this state of isolated mind
that holds the fate of Earth in thought, there is
hope, if we can cling to the awareness
that only in one's mind and soul resides
the power of taking thought for the whole world.
Of course, the isolate mind lacks power to act.
To act it has to join with other minds
and hands -- and that is where the trouble starts.
For where folk join together you get Groups,
and where there is a Group, there you get Groupthink,
some half-baked ideology set in stone
or woven into a flag to rally round
and fight with other groups, so nothing much
that's to the purpose of the isolate mind
And yet perhaps there is a way
to bypass this unfortunate mechanism
and link the thinking of our isolate minds
into a consciouness that's truly global.
Perhaps this is a moment when that way
could be discerned and taken.
That is what
my epic poem, The Consciousness of Earth,
attempts to show, and in commemoration
of Earth Day, I am posting it online,
This work has had a long gestation.
and many things that happened not by chance
contrived to prompt me to it. That first Earth Day --
two days before, a soul that I was bound to
through poetry, had taken leave of life,
and a year later, in his memory,
I wrote a poem called "Earthwake,"
having in mind some poems of his in which
the image of the distant Earth appears.
(You can still find that poem, with its sources,
upon the site "Point and Circumference.")
In time, the path on which he started me
led to Jerusalem. There, in the '80's,
a member of a group that met to think
about his poems, handed me a copy
of The Fate of the Earth, by Jonathan Schell,
a short time after I had given a paper
on our friend's "planetary vision." That
conjunction struck the spark, and the beginning
was written. But to finish what I'd started,
I had to read up on a lot of subjects
pertinent to our nature and condition
which we must understand to skirt the pitfalls
upon the road to our full stature as
those co-responsible for the Creation --
read and digest all that, and formulate
a plan of action based upon a way
of thought, that could connect the truth
of isolate heart and mind with the world's need.
It took some time to write, and has gone through
several revisions, and for all the attention
it has received, it might still be unwritten,
although available on Amazon!
For of its birthpangs not the least has been,
and is, the erosion of attention-span
which is our worst environmental danger.
Everyone understands that to invent
some gadget that will take us one step further
away from the soul's knowledge of itself,
method and concentration are required;
but for the purposes of social action...
slogans and statements of intent and words
not backed by pledges of our sacred honor
That doubtful tzaddik, Paul Celan,
in our one conversation in real time,
stated: "In poetry there is no cheating,"
and then repeated those same words so I
would write them down. And I believe I have
Now: it is an hour of hope
and of great danger too. For as the world
comes out from its forced spiritual retreat,
it will emerge upon a world where many
have lost their livelihoods, especially
those who had kept a little independence
from the great corporations whose dominion
is a far greater plague than any virus.
These corporations now will rake in bailouts
for which inflation soon will bill the people,
while the relief to those not hired by them
(and the hired will be fewer than before
since every pause gives opportunity
for automation) will not be much more
than mockery of the weak. If those who cherish
the spirit's freedom have not taken thought
within this interval to make a start
toward restoration of control to Man
made in G-d's image, not in the machine's,
then--let me me complete that thought, but hope
that some who read this will set foot upon
the way of thought that I have tried to show.
It is long, yes. But Hasidism teaches
that the short way is long, the long way, short.
You who have come at least this far with me,
pray with me that now it may be so.