I rarely watch the news any more. My husband, on the other hand, watches it constantly when he is home, so by proximity I do get a fairly healthy dose of the world-wide goings-on for the day. Like a negative bid, it is my distress over current events that inspired The People of the Green Hills and its associated works.
The other night, in just one hour, I saw enough bad stuff to keep me from sleeping for days. Someone went into a school in Pittsburgh and stabbed 14 students. Women who are not lucky enough to live in a place that protects them from such things are maimed and beaten without recourse. A teacher and student got into a fight in the classroom because the student was carrying marijuana and selling it in class. A public service announcement showed three young people, teenagers or young adults, texting while they were driving and being ‘T’d’ by a tractor trailer and killed. Then there is the ongoing story of the missing Malaysian airliner and the pain of the families looking for any news good or bad of the 200+ people on board. Our nephew was a student at Sandy Hook Elementary when a shooter went through and killed 20 beautiful little children and six of those who cared for them. My son had been at a mid-night showing of the last Batman movie when I got up to find that in a similar theater with a similar audience on the other side of the country, a lunatic had stolen in and shot up the crowd.
So much pain.
But I also see a lot of good. A lot of joy. A lot of reasons to have hope for us. Boston Strong remembers those, both professional and non-professional, who jumped into the fray to help those injured. The two who committed that particular atrocity have been named and constantly featured because how can you instead show the faces of hundreds who were a truer representation of what I believe is our real nature? In my own corner of the world, a student’s home was broken into by two or three thugs, but dozens responded with money and replacement items. Most people are quick to offer help and wish no harm to others, far more than create the chaos.
Like so many before me, I dream of a place where people can live in peace, where they can realize their dreams, where no one is lonely or humiliated or forgotten. A place where every single person is respected and valued. A place where people choose their occupation based on their passion and their gifts instead of on an artificially constructed system of value. I am not a communist. I am not talking about income or possessions at all. What I am looking for–for my sons, for my students, even for the legions of whom I have no awareness–is respect and freedom from fear. Can we make a place where those who would do us harm are uninvited into our lives? Where we can enjoy the beauty of all creation, including each other, without the need for locked doors? Can we be good stewards of our world, aware of our place, not in charge of it, but as an equal part of it, equal to the other animals, the plants, the rivers, the seas, the sky? I believe we can. We can remember the past, honor it and learn from it. We can look to the future, hope for it and plan for it with the joys of discovery and creation.
Technology can free us instead of enslaving us. Architecture can be beautiful and lasting instead of being built with planned obsolescence. We have done it. We can do it again. We can recognize that for all that we do, all that we accomplish, it is the art and the music and the literature that will endure and bear witness to our lives. We can honor those occupations equally with the others of more practical results.
I believe in it. I believe in us. But the journey to such an evolved society is not quick or easy or without its dangers. That is the basis for The PeopIe of the Green Hills.