An Anthem Against Silence: Amanda Palmer Reads Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s Piercing and Prescient 1914 Protest Poem – Brain Pickings

An Anthem Against Silence: Amanda Palmer Reads Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s Piercing and Prescient 1914 Protest Poem
“To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”
BY MARIA POPOVA

“Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent,” biologist Rachel Carson wrote to her most beloved friend as she was about to catalyze the modern environmental movement with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring.

My recent immersion in Carson’s world and her breathtaking correspondence with Dorothy Freeman led me down a curious path that circled back to our present moment with astonishing pertinence. In a letter to Freeman penned exactly ninety days before the release of Silent Spring, as Carson was coming to terms with the irreversible bravery of breaking her silence about the destruction of nature and the government’s attendant heedlessness, she shared a quotation that had bolstered her courage to speak out:

“To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

A mighty and mobilizing anthem against silence, the poem stands as an anthem for our own time. So I asked my friend and fellow poetry-lover Amanda Palmer to record a reading of this timeless, timely masterpiece as an installment in our ongoing collaboration on poetry readings. (Previously: “Humanity i love you” by E.E. Cummings, and “Possibilities” and “Life While-You-Wait” by Polish Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska.)

Amanda herself was so moved by the words that she invited her friend Jherek Bischoff — the brilliant composer and multi-instrumentalist with whom she collaborated on their David Bowie tribute — to set the words to music. The piece that buoys the poem is titled “Closer To Closure,” from Jherek’s entrancing album Cistern.

Please enjoy: PROTEST

PROTEST

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Source: An Anthem Against Silence: Amanda Palmer Reads Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s Piercing and Prescient 1914 Protest Poem – Brain Pickings

Consume more, conserve more: sorry, but we just can’t do both | George Monbiot | The Guardian

We can have it all: that is the promise of our age. We can own every gadget we are capable of imagining – and quite a few that we are not. We can live like monarchs without compromising the Earth’s capacity to sustain us. The promise that makes all this possible is that as economies develop, they become more efficient in their use of resources. In other words, they decouple. There are two kinds of decoupling: relative and absolute. Relative decoupling means using less stuff with every unit of economic growth; absolute decoupling means a total reduction in the use of resources, even though the economy continues to grow. Almost all economists believe that decoupling – relative or absolute – is an inexorable feature of economic growth. Yes, the Paris climate change conference can save the planet Ed Miliband Read more On this notion rests the concept of sustainable development. It sits at the heart of the climate talks in Paris next month and of every other summit on environmental issues. But it appears to be unfounded. A paper published earlier this year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proposes that even the relative decoupling we claim to have achieved is an artefact of false accounting. It points out that governments and economists have measured our impacts in a way that seems irrational. Here’s how the false accounting works.

Source: Consume more, conserve more: sorry, but we just can’t do both | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

An Open Letter to Fellow Environmentalists | Deep Green Resistance New York

“I write this as an open letter to environmentalists, but to be honest, it isn’t truly an open letter. Many of you (probably most) will continue to call for these unsustainable forms of energy, despite knowing that to do so is to beg murder upon the migratory birds, the (very few remaining) unpolluted streams, rural Chinese farmers, and ultimately upon what remains of the living world. Many of you don’t want a truly sustainable way of life, but to sustain a functionally unsustainable civilization. Many of your salaries and personal identities depend on “clean energy,” and you won’t dare challenge it. And for me, this is incredibly saddening and disheartening, as I know many such people. So this letter is not written to you.”

via An Open Letter to Fellow Environmentalists | Deep Green Resistance New York.

Here is a wakeup call. One that insists we strip off the blinders and face our own delusions in order to survive.

I had heard some of these statistics, some of these uncomfortable truths, yet allowed myself to cling to the fantasy (is it? really?) of solar cells painted onto rooftops, of wind power made small scale and affordable and powering local homes in local grids .. while worrying underneath about rare minerals (yes, I own a cellphone) and migratory birds and hoping technological advances would quickly resolve these anomalies. The kicker, though, is that the same argument is used by the industrial giants against whom I want to  (and often do) rail… the Enridges, the BPs, the Shells, of this world. They, too, rely on technology to ‘solve the problem’ of carbon emissions and climate change and those billions of gallons of spilled and leaked oil contaminating our world. and so for now they continue, comfortable in their conviction that one day, some day, technology will clean it up and resolve it all.

Yes, there’s food for thought here and more research to be done. Here may be a very good starting place. But I warn you, it may make you deeply, even frighteningly, uncomfortable.

DailyGood: Manic Nation: Why We’re Addicted to Stress

DailyGood: Manic Nation: Why We’re Addicted to Stress

Dr. Peter Whybrow is lunching at a sushi bar near his office at the University of California, Los Angeles, but his attention is on the other diners. Even while talking to their tablemates, they are constantly distracted. They text, and repeatedly glance up at the wall-mounted TV screens. Common habits, sure. But to Whybrow, director of UCLA’s Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, those jittery behaviors are prime examples of how modern American culture has outrun the biology of our brains….”

Salient indeed… note to self..