The journal I took to Fishtrap’s Outpost (see Prairie and Poetry) is filled with quotes from workshop leader Scott Russell Sanders, starting with this one relevant to the workshop theme, “Giving Voice to Earth”—
Every piece of the earth needs hearts and minds attending to it.
A series of questions Scott posed on the first day continue to guide me as I seek clarity about how to respond to the many concerns in our world:
What are the forces I want to work on the side of?
What possibility do I want to work on behalf of?
These queries have relevance for any number of conflicts, crises, and problems including the environment, health care, and war. I also thought of them last week when I read in the book trade newsletter Shelf-Awareness Pro that Amazon.com has started to offer even larger-than-usual discounts on many bestselling hardcover books. And I returned to the queries days later when I learned that President Obama would speak about the economy at an Amazon warehouse.
I don’t begin to understand the complexities of the company’s business model, but I do know that there are concerns about wages and working conditions in its warehouses and that its tactics have driven away business from independent booksellers. So, instead of working against a company and an approach that I believe is hurtful to local businesses and possibly to its own workforce, I’m more committed than ever to work on the side of places like my community’s local book store, Lopez Bookshop. It’s a small gesture, but one that works on behalf of a business that serves a little piece of the earth.
What are the forces you work on the side of; the possibilities you work on behalf of?
Beginning in January 2012, I instituted posting an “Afterthought” on the last day of each month, fashioned after a practice in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, some groups continue in silence for a few more minutes during which members are invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning's worship. I’ve adopted the form here for brief reflections on headlines, quotes, comments overheard, maybe even bumper stickers.