Inspirational People

My chemo treatment in Portland went well- the 2/3 dose of Steroids seems to be working much better this week- less grumpy snarling, though I am still a bit of squirrel girl on speed.  I also found a most excellent hat in the hat basket in the treatment room – the kindness of a stranger I will never meet now warms my head.  It inspires me to get some scarves dyed to bring next time.

Fetching new soft wool hat knit by an anonymous kind soul.
Fetching new soft wool hat knit by an anonymous kind soul.

A Legacy of Pete Seeger

My friend Jan sent me an article honoring Pete Seeger last night, he died this week at age 94. His is one of the voices that Martin has loved since he was tiny. The KMUN bedtime stories theme “Where’s My Pajamas?” sung by Pete inspired Martin to want to go down to the station and meet him. “Right now.” (Martin’s also has an unending adoration for Robert Goulet’s Christmas Album. . .)

Peet Seeger singing in 1944 at the Washington Labor Canteen. Eleanor Roosevelt is seated in front between two service men.
Peet Seeger singing in 1944 at the Washington Labor Canteen. Eleanor Roosevelt is seated in front between two service men.

Pete Seeger is on my list of people who lived his life as a shining example of ethical, compassionate loving kindness- and most importantly he did it with playfulness and humor.  I believe that he lived up to the words of Martin Luther King:

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

The Article from Jan lead me to another article which contained the entire transcript of a hearing before the Congressional committee on Un-American activities which illustrates the quality of Disciplined Nonconformity well.  Seeger refused to answer any questions in regards to where specifically he may have sung, or to whom. He refused to answer any questions about his associates.  He believed the entire line of questioning to be improper and refused to cooperate, without pleading the fifth amendment.  Here are a few quotes:

“I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.”

“I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.”

If you wish to see the whole transcript it is here: 1955 Pete Seeger Congressional Testimony  In these days of the Patriot Act, and Big Brother phone and email listening , it seems that we all need a bit more Pete Seeger Mojo in our lives.

He helped us remember that we can make a difference. That we must always stand up for what we hold to be true.  There are so many ways to do that- one example is the excellent and dedicated Friday Evening Peace Gathering folks who have stood vigil in front of the post office here in Astoria for years, acting as a weekly reminder that there is always a peaceful solution to any conflict.  There are also those who sing, those who meditate, those who feed people, and those who are parenting children towards ethical standards.  Anyone who consciously chooses right livelihood is contributing to peace in this world.  When we speak up, when we refuse to cooperate with injustice – We are making change in the world. Pete Seeger lived his life reminding us of this.

Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of all the ways we can make a difference when faced with the never ending onslaught of what Wendell Berry calls “Extraction Culture.”   It is often a source of anger for me that our energies are diverted into stopping insane greed and hatefulness- when there are so many things we could be doing to create joy and beauty in the world instead. For instance we could all be using our free time doing restoration ecology work for the rest of our lives.  So sing a song this week for Pete Seeger, yourself, your pet, plants, housemates, family, friends or coworkers. Sing for a stranger in the street.  There is magic in songs, and where there is magic there is change.

Much Love Iris

P.S.  Joe and I recorded a song playing with Garage Band as our offering to the song lines, however I could not figure out how to post it.  Leave a comment if you want me to email a copy  to you.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. sharon A says:

    Iris – what a lovely tribute to Pete Seeger and what he has meant to us all. THANK YOU dear lady. I so love his responses to HUAC…….intelligent, calm and peaceful. Also, I am SO GLAD that the lower steroid dosage is making this journey somewhat easier. Much love to you….Sharon

  2. Eileen says:

    Nice hat sister! You make most excellent scarves so that is a wonderful idea. I enjoy the scarves you have given me. Happy about the lower steroid dosage for you.

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