Dear SANETEERS, regarding the local communities issue Granny D said it
better a few days earlier in Clarksburg, referencing Thornton Wilder and
her own hometown in New Hampshire:
>A Granny D New Year's Update from the volunteers:
>89 year-old Doris *Granny D* Haddock, walking across the US for campaign
finance reform, today reached Clarksburg, West Virginia in the snow. Her
remarks to a group of townspeople at a YWCA are below. Ps. About fifty
people from around the country have indicated they will walk with her into
Washington on Feb. 29. If you would like to join her, and have not already
sent an e-mail to that effect, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you,
and Happy 2000!
>It is a great pleasure to be here. Clarksburg is a beautiful community,
and I know how you must love it. Your people have been here for over two
centuries, surviving deep snows and wide floods, and you have watched your
children grow and your friends grow old. You, yourself are still looking
>I know about the magic of being from a good town, and loving it.
>There is a stage play that I'm sure you know about, entitled "Our Town," by
Mr. Thornton Wilder. It is about life and death in a small New Hampshire
town. More exactly, it is about all the beauty we miss because we are not
fully awake to the brief magic of life. Mr. Wilder wrote the play while
residing in the New Hampshire community where I live, and where I have
raised my children, and we take his play as a correct description of the
heartbreaking beauty of life in a caring community of decent people. The
area is called Dublin and Peterborough, New Hampshire, just west of
>Now Mr. Wilder was careful not to start any arguments about where the real
Our Town might be, and whether some of the characters might therefore have
real counterparts. In the very beginning of the play, he cites the
longitude and latitude of the town. If you go to a map, however, you will
see that the coordinates he gives describe the middle of Massachusetts Bay,
quite a ways out at sea. So, respecting his wishes, we do not claim to be
the town of Our Town. We do, however, live and die as he described and we
understand the emotions that stirred within him as he wrote.
>He wrote in an area of 32 little cabins set up for writers and artists by
Edward and Marian MacDowell. At the MacDowell Colony, Mr. Wilder wrote his
play, and America's great music composer, Aaron Copeland, wrote much of his
masterwork, Appalachian Spring. Virgil Thomson wrote Mother of Us All.
Leonard Bernstein completed his great symphonic Mass.
>Over 4,000 artists and writers have taken their turn working in that
beautiful and harmonious setting, including Edwin Arlington Robinson, Milton
Avery, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Jules Feiffer, Studs Terkel, Alice
Walker and many, many others.
>I spent most of my weekends for a half century at another such colony,
called Dundee, several hours up the mountain, where we spent our leisure
hours with great thinkers and artists, and where we prepared our big meal
together each evening, and put on plays for each other in the theater built
for just us and our children.
>This all may be something of a revelation to many people who have grown up
in big cities or towns under clouds of oppression. They may not have
imagined that humans can form happy and creative communities--that they can
make something of a heaven for themselves here on earth. It can be done. I
have done it all my life, and I can see that you have, too.
>For those not so fortunate, if they would like to find their way to a
community of love and courtesy where the purpose of living is to reach one's
full potential as a creative human being, and also to help others do the
same, I think you and I can give them some helpful advice.
>There is a secret to the creation and nurturing of true community. Once
people know the secret, they can create community anywhere they choose--any
place they happen to find themselves.
>The secret is to take the world as your own--and to take full
responsibility for it. Once a person steps into the circle of those who take
responsibility for the happy operation of the community, once someone
decides that they are not a customer of government, but government itself,
the magic of community begins.
>As long as we are breathing and thinking, and our hearts are beating, the
world is ours to shape as we please, according to our values.
>There are many people who would like us to believe that the world is
theirs, not ours, so that they might steal our world from us --steal our
lives from us. They would like us to be their little slaves, mindlessly
working for their happiness at the expense of our own, and accepting all the
evils of the world as somehow necessary. Nonsense.
>If you want to know who has been hypnotized by this lie, look to the role
people have adopted for themselves. If they accept the *them versus us*
divide between the people and the government, they have bought into the lie
that destroys democracy. They need to wake up, and, frankly, we need to
wake each other up from that hypnosis from time to time, don't we?
>The violence in our society is a symptom of that hypnosis. A real citizen,
a person who takes responsibility for the community, is not someone who
returns poison with poison, rudeness with rudeness, violence with
violence--for to do so would be playing but a bit part in a minor play.
When someone can return rudeness with concern, poison with understanding,
violence with peace, they are not being ruled by others. They are free. The
world is theirs, and it begins to turn their way, toward their higher
values, because they are not giving rudeness what it needs to survive, nor
violence what it needs to grow. They are spreading their consciousness over
the large view, and taking responsibility for the happy workings of their
>In our land, the rise of violence is held as a mystery. It is no mystery
to me. It is what happens when people, young and old, no longer feel
responsible for their communities. There is a great, and now global,
corporate-political complex at work to strip people of their ability to feel
responsible for their communities, of their ability to feel connected with
its needs and valuable to its operation.
>In my long walk, I am trying to get some new laws passed that will make it
easier, I hope, for people to be responsible for their own communities and
their own government. I worry that the influence of very rich companies and
very rich people make it difficult for regular people to feel that they are
in charge of their own affairs. We need to get the big, $100,000 special
interest contributions out of our elections. Those contributions shout down
you and me, and there is no true free speech nor true political equality so
long as this condition persists.
>I would not be on this warpath if I did not believe that America is my
responsibility; I am responsible for its happy workings, as are you.
>Even in the very act of trying to help, I find my happiness and I find a
creative community of people. In this way, we have already won. We always
win if we will only wake ourselves from the hypnosis that the superpowerful
would impose on us, and take responsibility as the happy leaders of our
communities, our land, our earth.
>In this generation, the fate of our natural environment, and of our
democratic environment will be decided. Only great leadership, and great
love, can get us through the times ahead. We must all take our part in this
great drama. It is more than politics; it is a struggle of the soul, and it
is exquisitely personal to each of us.
>I have talked long enough for someone who is supposed to be out walking.
But let me say that I take my town with me. Our Town always travels with us,
not even two steps down the path. The longitude and latitude of it cross
upon our hearts. We bring the good community into being with our love and
our relentless consciousness. We mustn't fail to appreciate the magical
moment of life, and to fully participate in it joyfully and constructively,
never giving an inch to injustice, unfairness or inequality, nor ever
forgetting the long line of people we have known and loved in the great
circle that extends well into the next life.
>Thank you for listening to me today, and thank you for your warm
hospitality along a snowy road.
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