Eleven Possible Directions

This is a new manifesto.  Some of this I’ve said again and again my whole life.  Yet I always try to distill it, narrow it down and give it new life. 

I’ll be reconfiguring this a bit and passing around “paper copies” as well.  These are directions in the sense of having a group of “points of focus.”

I list them first, then discuss the list a bit, point by point.

Anyone who does anything to encourage, promote or to help bring any of these about is truly “on my good side.”  Friends!  How will we change the world?  What do we need to do?

my drawing "Art Therapy for a Sick World"

my drawing "Art Therapy for a Sick World"

1. For women, with women, universally, once and for all…

2. In defense of children, their health, their very lives and more…

3. For the earth itself and all its natural life, its health and future…

4. With the “native peoples” everywhere, those “with the land”…

5. Internationalist!  To be with all nations and all peoples…

6. On the side of the poor and the homeless, their health and survival…

7. Feed the hungry, try to reduce starvation everywhere…

8. Try to heal the sick and to prevent disease, make it less epidemic…

9. Find ways to reduce and limit all violence and its wars…

10. For personal liberty, to be allowed to be who you really are…

11. Give total support to the arts and its creativity…

cast (from April 2000 in brush and ink)

cast (from April 2000 in brush and ink)

Here, I go through each of the points above, in more detail.

1. Women should have more liberty and more power.  This starts with their safety and health (reduce the ‘sexual violence” and brute violence against them, help them to stay healthy etc.) .  The chances for fair wages and for better jobs are also important.  They often earn less than men for doing the same work.

2. Here’s to all children everywhere!  From the newly born to the teenagers: help prepare them to live and to survive.   It’s good to lay a groundwork so that they can be good adults in the world.  This is directly tied to both educational and health issues.

3. We need to care about our own home!  We need to defend the earth, the physical world in which we live: the dirt, water and sky and all the life, the plants , animals and people.  We need to stand against what harms the earth including pollution and global warming. 

4. The “native peoples” or indigenous peoples start as those tied closely to the land, to nature.  Then, far too often, they’ve had their land stolen from them.  Or they themselves have been stolen and used as slaves or otherwise exploited.  Future such actions should be discouraged and prevented.  Yet we mustn’t forget the past.  Reparations, affirmative action etc. should be used at times, as effects of past injustices still persist and linger.

5. It’s good to be a citizen of the world!  Internationalism can be a strong force toward changing the world, in making a better life, for all nations, for all peoples.  Away with too much senseless “territorial-ism” and “tribalism.”  Not “globalisation” or merging into one bland monoculture but embracing diversity.  Vive le difference!

6.  The poor and hungry are often too busy being poor to fight for their own rights, for their survival.  This is tied to economic, health and food issues.  Some countries are poor and most of their people are hungry.  Then, there are those who are “down and out” within fairly rich or successful cities. 

7.  Take a stand against starvation!  It’s hard to separate this from poverty.  Most people who don’t eat enough do so because they can’t afford or find enough food.  There’s a lot of food in the world.  A lot of it gets wasted.

8.  Try to help heal the sick and injured and reduce their pain.  Try to prevent disease as best we can. Universal  health care is only part of the equation, yet it can’t be denied.

9.  I don’t know why the human beings seem to be so violent!  We need to find ways to limit all violence and even reduce the amount of wars.  Men seem to be more violent than women and children.  They also have more power.  Could there be a connection somewhere?  It doesn’t have to be as dangerous as it is.

10. Is liberty a phantom, something difficult to grasp or hold?  If freedom isn’t free, does that mean it’s in shackles?  Is the price we’re prepared to pay for it finite?  Does it have an end?  If some manage to become their truest self, others are busy with other things, distracted.  It’s essential, even urgent yet hard to pin down.

11.  The arts and their artists are far more important than we realize.  Artists have a valuable part to play in the world.  They should be encouraged and given some support.  A true Renaissance seems to be at hand.  Magical creativity may yet find its way.  Hard work can produce a great many interesting surprises.

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2 Responses to “Eleven Possible Directions”

  1. Don Handy Says:

    I’m feeling even more pessimistic lately. Yesterday I turned in NBC Nightly News to see what could be gleaned from there concerning the coup in Honduras, and caught a 5-second clip (no, I’m not exagerating). They’s already had a 5-minute segment on Michael Jackson – the man is dead, it’s time to get on with your own life, people – and promised another segment before the end of the broadcast. Of copurse, they did have a segment on the ongoing revolt in Iran that was twice as long as the report on Honduras, a full 10 seconds! Later on, at the start of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, they promised even more on Michael Jackson, but nothing on the struggle in Honduras.

    In the face of such – of the total dominance of Corporate media over the discourse of our lives – what does any personal manifesto matter? Then again, am I, by my pessimism, being complicit in said total Corporate media dominance? Do we not need to protest by any and all means necessary?

    Anyway, I think I disagree with point #11. For one thing, I tend not to trust absolutes. In this case I agree with something Patti Smith once said: “All must not give art. Some art we must disintegrate.” (“25th Floor”). In particular, the so-called “art” I see for sale at those “Community Art Shows,” or at malls, or in my doctor’s office, definitely need to be “disintegrated.” I suppose the argument could be made that they aren’t art. However, they are being marketed as such, so that has to be at least part of their definition. Personally, I would find their ashes of far more value, artistic or otherwise, then their bland existance. (Perhaps my favorite “art” these days can be found in the sky, shortly after sunrise, each workday morning. It doesn’t need encouragement or support – just an awareness.)

    Otherwise, a lot of it seems, if anything, too unassailable. Who, aside from W.C. Fields, would go on record as being anti-child? What you’re voicing as a worthy goal is, for us parents, a daily reality. I don’t mean to be critical, but it sounds awfully presumptious of you.

    I agree with a lot, probably in the realm of 99%, of what you’re saying. I guess I just got a bug up my ass tonight.

  2. tony Says:

    A title could be: DON’T LET THE MISERABILISM EAT YOU OR THEY’VE WON. I’m not ready to concede defeat to the bastards, as long as I’ve a breath.

    I look for hope and inspiration in people like Mother Mary Jones, who saw four of her children and her husband die of yellow fever and still had the strength to organize workers and lead strikes. Or the workers in Argentina who have taken over their factories from the bosses and are running them for the benefit of the community (opening community health clinics and local schools).
    ===========================================

    Art should be a provocative act, something beyond craft and technical perfection. It should incite, excite and hopefully elevate the contemporary. The artist should be the advanced scouting party turning the corner and exploring the next bend before the rest of society arrives. It should also seek others to join the exploration – it should not be an exclusive club of elitists. Artists are the ones who stubbornly and tenaciously hold onto their dreams no matter the costs. I, like Don (and I suspect you, Maurice) would agree that what is passed on as art because of its marketability is a definition of art that “they” would like us to accept. I would say it is similar to the manipulation of terms like “union” (a third party that comes in to solve the workers problems) or “democracy” (where disparity in wealth is proof that we have a democracy).

    Sorry if I’m rambling – it’s the wine.

    I too agree with you, Maurice on your eleven points. The real issue is how to get people to act on implementing them. However, it does start by “watering the flowers in your own backyard” first. And that is where parents (how ever you define that) are most important.

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