As I was riding the subway into Manhattan this morning, the classic 50 year old song “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke came up on my iPhone. This song was one of the most important songs of the civil rights era and continues to provide a gentle reminder that one day a change will come. Just like the change in the way white southern people thought about sharing a restaurant with a black person, thanks to the Freedom Riders, a group of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States, change is possible even if it’s a bit too slow for my taste.
So who are today’s Freedom Riders? Greepeace activists are regularly arrested for their work and some university students recently got arrested in DC protesting the monstrosity that is the Keystone Pipeline. The NSA undoubtedly tracks what they call “eco-terrorists” and whistle-blowers under the auspice of tracking Muslims. What’s ironic is that 90% percent of terrorist attacks in America are conducted by non-Muslims. One of my all time favorite protests that resulted in an arrest was when farmers planted hemp on the DEA Headquarters’s lawn. According to the Hemp Industries Association, “Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products” yet it is still illegal to grow in most countries in the world thanks to financial tycoons.
Unfortunately every year on Earth Day I am saddened by the continued destruction of the biosphere. Lately it’s more about the way people live their lives day to day with little or no connection to their environment. As I exited the subway this morning, I saw several people flick their cigarettes on the ground while I thought to myself, (to be honest my first thought was why in the hell do people still smoke cigarettes?) this person just by a very simple act clearly does not care for her own body or her immediate environment, much less the planet. Or maybe she does, but just doesn’t see the connection? Fortunately artists like Sam Cooke are always there to remind us that we can change the way people think, feel and connect to the planet, but this kind of transformation is truly “a long time coming”.
Another author and artist that continues to provide much needed inspiration is José Argüelles, a leader in the movement that helped contribute to the first earth day protest in 1970 with a festival called Whole Earth Day. He is also a major influence in our film, Time is Art. Via Wikipedia:
In Time and the Technosphere (2002), Argüelles devises and promotes a notion that he calls the “Law of Time”, in part framed by his interpretations of how Maya calendrical mathematics functioned. In this notional framework Argüelles claims to have identified a “fundamental law” involving two timing frequencies: one he calls “mechanised time” with a “12:60 frequency”, and the other “natural [time] codified by the Maya [that is] understood to be the frequency 13:20”. To Argüelles, “the irregular 12-month [Gregorian] calendar and artificial, mechanised 60-minute hour” is a construct that artificially regulates human affairs, and is out-of-step with the natural “synchronic order”. He proposes the universal abandonment of the Gregorian calendar and its replacement with a thirteen moon, 28 day calendar, in order to “get the human race back on course” by the adoption of this calendar of perfect harmony so the human race could straighten its mind out again.
Perhaps we are not in touch with the natural environment simply because of the way we understand time, especially in connection to the 9-5 work week and the fact that our only purpose seems to be to work in an office or produce material goods so we can buy more crap we don’t need. The person that threw her cigarette on the ground was probably rushing, stressed out and late to a job she more than likely hates. In many ways, our film, Time is Art, is a tribute to Argüelles’s ideas. He was clearly way ahead of his time. The important thing is to keep pushing humanity forward, little by little we can be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
After 8 feet of water surged into out neighborhood in Red Hook Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy, we were inspired to create a video that commemorates the storm and helps to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and living sustainably. Mother Nature will fight back when she’s pushed too far.
Earth Day is everyday. Happy Day!