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Rings of Smoke Through the Trees

There’s a sign on the wall. There’s always a wall. There’s always a sign on it. The rich erect the walls and the politicians plaster the signs all over them. Don’t read those signs anymore, don’t even bother looking at them, those signs don’t matter any more.

The signs you need to worry about aren’t on those walls. They’re in the poisoned air all around you. They’re in that dying sky above you. They’re in the ravaged earth beneath your feet. Those signs are everywhere, posted by Nature and written in pain, warning of fracking and mountaintop mining, of ozone depletion and carbon emissions, of species extinction and polar cap melting, of the acid in the rain and the death of the oceans.

Catastrophic climate change hasn’t been invited to any boardroom meetings on Wall Street, it’s never been interviewed on Fox News, it’s never been a guest on Morning Joe or Meet the Press, it’s not important enough to deserve any attention from the Grand Bargainers, it’s not welcome to testify in front of any committee of any congress or parliament anywhere, because the people who own this corporate bank vault that used to be a planet decide what’s heard and what isn’t, decide who can speak and who can’t, decide for all of us what the future will be.

But for some bizarre reason even Luke Russert can’t explain, catastrophic climate change has decided to testify anyway. It’s dropping by to say hello, It’s pounding on the doors of America, it’s pounding on the doors of Europe, it’s pounding on the doors of Asia, it’s standing on the doorstep of the world with more superstorms right behind it and the fire of karma in its eyes, it‘s come calling with a very loud final word or two for us before all the lights go out . . .


The world can’t say there wasn’t enough time to stop the polluting and the poisoning and the drilling, governments were given plenty of time to stop the ravaging of the environment. We knew the corporate capitalists were playing with fire, we saw the rings of smoke drifting through the trees long ago, but no one in power ever listens to progressives.

Or to songwriters.

In 1971, Robert Plant wrote a song about the threat of materialism, about saving the environment, about a stairway to heaven. He knew it can’t be bought with gold, it can’t be purchased with corporate cash, it can’t be acquired by the highest bidder and privatized for profit. It’s not for sale.

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know? Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

Your stairway, our stairway, is still out there somewhere, it can still be found, it can still be climbed, it can still lead us to reason.

That’s why it’s there.

It’s been more than forty years, but there’s still a tree by a brook, there’s still a songbird singing, there’s still a whisper of redemption in the wind, maybe there’s still time to change the road we’re on . . .

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Isaiah 88

Isaiah 88