Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#64 / This Land

The words to Woody Guthrie's famous song "ring true" for most of us. This land does "belong to you and me."

In the song, the "land" that Woody Guthrie sings about isn't just those properties found within the boundaries of our National Parks. "This Land" is a shorthand way to refer to the wealth and abundance that our society has produced. That wealth and abundance was produced by all of us. We are all in this thing together.

If you click right here, you can read a nice article about the Working Families Party, published in the March 2014 edition of In These Times. The article kind of goes along with Woody's song.

"This land belongs to you and me."

Now is probably a pretty good time (as good a time as ever) to start thinking about what we can do to make real that promise that Woody Guthrie was singing about. Let's take possession where Woody staked our claim.

This Land Is Your Land 
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me. 
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me. 
I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me. 
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me. 
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me. 
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me? 
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

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1 comment:

  1. This song has always bothered me.

    "This land," whether "land" refers to the physical landscape or the human built infrastructure and societal systems, was not "made" for you and me.

    "This land," meaning the landscape and all its inhabitants, was not "made." It arose of itself, not for any one species, not for you and me. We are a part of "this land," but not the "owner" part, any more than the hummingbird or the bison. This land was made "of" you and me, not for us.

    If "this land" means the human modifications to the landscape, the overweening proliferation of human infrastructure and social systems, then these are most certainly not made for you and me. They are made for the profit of the few, not the benefit of the many.

    I think this second interpretation is what Woody Guthrie had in mind, that all humans are legatees of all human culture, that the human world should not benefit the few at the expense of the many.

    Unfortunately, this leaves out the rest of all life on the planet, which suffers far more at the busy hands of this one profligate species.


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