“Heads up all of you retro radicals, you bohemian bourgeoise. The alarm has sounded. The barbarians are inside the gates, and you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the hot wind blows.
It’s time for all you good people to once again come to the aid of your country, your species, your planet, and your galaxy. This call is for you, my friends, and I know you are all ready to get up, stand up, take it to the streets – go on strike - shut it down.
And you can do it. Even if you’ve got a bad back, or a bum knee or some other hitch in your giddyup, just pop some Ibuprofen and put on those old tennis shoes and your tie-died sweat shirt and get ready… to do whatever it is you can do. And do it more.
For instance, maybe you could choose one of your favorite endangered species and join in saving its habitat – or at least try to find it some affordable housing.
Or else join the movement -- launched just in this very moment -- to have the endangered species list read aloud in churches and schools and at public gatherings. Otherwise, how will we know?
Maybe just like you, my friend, I thought I was no longer needed – a retired radical who had turned in my badge -- and all I had to do was keep listening to KPFA and go to Mime Troupe shows, and make donations to worthy causes, like “Clowns Without Borders.”
But can you remember the exhilaration you felt in that distant past when just like now, “the operation of the machine becomes so odious, and makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part … and you’ve got to make it stop.”
Maybe you can get inspired by looking through your radical memorabilia. Just go into the closet and pull out some of your old protest posters – the ones that you carried into the streets – thirty or fourty or fifty years ago, back in the ancient days. Back in the 19 hundreds. When the world was young.
And maybe you were there joining voices with me -- during the civil rights movement – when we sang with Pete Seeger “We shall not be moved,” and then Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and we thought we were almost done with that struggle – not realizing that it could take a few generations for any real integration to start happening in America.
And hey, there in my closet is a poster calling on people to boycott grapes – and we kind of won that one, didn’t we – helping the farmworkers get their rights.
And way back there in my closet was the flyer that announced the March on Washington -- when we chanted “Om” and caused the pentagon to levitate… And later there were the anti-war rallies where we gathered hundreds of thousands of people, back when it didn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. And then there were the killings at Kent State -- and even though we didn’t exactly stop the war in Vietnam we sure enough slowed it down. And “Hey hey hey, L.B.J., how many kids did you kill today?” And a bow of appreciation, friends, because the falcons and the humpback whales are making a comeback.
So now is a good time to go dig out that old pair of jeans with the “authentic” rip in the knee from when you got knocked down by the cops outside the democratic convention. And there’s the t-shirt that got torn in the White Night riots, and the silly frog hat that you wore at the Diablo Canyon nuke protests.
And maybe in the garage you’ll find some signs and posters you can use again… like “Make Love, Not War,” which is vague enough to be valid forever. I found one of my favorite posters – it says, “U.S. out of North America.” That’s still applicable. And there was that placard calling for a boycott of grapes ... and maybe we could just paint it over and call for a boycott of the excessive consumption of just about everything you can name.
So come on friends, you “bourgeoise bohemians”. Maybe all of us retired radicals can form a boomer’s brigade – announcing that we will protest anytime and anywhere, as long as we can fit in a little afternoon nap. And if they dare to touch our social security we will get our canes and walkers and go to the streets chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho. Now we’re old, we want our dough.”
And finally, I am compelled to ask, what would Buddha do? And I know that first of all, the Buddha would do no harm and inflict no pain. And maybe he would take the position advocated by the Dalai Lama, who calls the other side “my friends, the enemy” -- acknowledging that all of us are members of a species out of control, and we humans are just now learning how to overcome our collective greed, hatred and delusion.
So, we may not know how we will be called upon – or what sacrifices we might be asked to make. But we’ve done it before and we can do it again. We can stand up for justice and truth – and the strong determination, to ease the suffering of all beings everywhere, and to heal and sustain the life of the earth.
Finally friends, to energize your work in the world, don’t forget to celebrate the natural miracles that are inside of us and that surround us -- the mystery of consciousness and the movement of the planets, and the improbable wonder of our life on earth.
And this is Scoop Nisker saying, once again, stay high but keep your priorities straight, and if you don't like the news go out and make some of your own!”
Wes “Scoop” Nisker is a Buddhist meditation teacher, author and performer. He is now a senior teacher at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, Ca. His books include “Essential Crazy Wisdom”, “Buddha’s Nature”, “The Big Bang”, “The Buddha”, and “The Baby Boom.”
Wes worked in radio for nearly 40 years, starting at progressive radio station KSAN. He won numerous awards for his unique brand of “news you can dance to”, and was recently inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. At Videowest, he was a regular host, writer and performer, and was best known for his “Man on the Street” interviews, which you can view here.
Check out Scoop’s site