Monday, March 7, 2011

Is This Land Made For You and Me?

I've decided to share a song with you that you've all heard before but probably haven't thought too much of. I watched a documentary recently about the life of Woody Guthrie. What an amazing life!

In the 1930's Woody Guthrie was a young traveling musician wondering the country meeting all kinds of people singing songs about the folks he met along the way. He told their stories and became a social advocate for the country. He met people suffering from the Dust Bowl, traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California, and sang songs about the Depression. He knew the working class people because he lived with them. America was struggling and after hearing the ever popular God Bless America play repeatedly on the radio, Guthrie decided to write a song in response that not only gave people a sense of the natural bounty of our country but challenged thinking about possession, wealth, abundance, and resources. He wanted most to empower the poor but also challenge those whose needs were comfortably met. A song we consider today as patriotic was actually a hippie anthem created to bring attention to a belief Guthrie had. He believed that the land, with all its abundance, and our nation, with all its glory, is here not to benefit some but to benefit everyone. In his song, Guthrie sings "I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps to the sparkling sands of her diamond desert. And all around me a voice was sounding, this land was made for you and me." In another verse, that he occasionally included as part of his song but is not recorded, he sings "In the squares of the city, in the shadows of the steeple, by the relief office, I'd seen my people. As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, is this land made for you and me?"

Seventy years after the writing of his song, his sentiments are still relevant today. Like Guthrie, I find myself asking the same question, is this land made for you and me? Is it made only for the rich? If we have enough, how come the poor grow poorer? What is this American dream we're chasing? All these questions make me think a lot about capitalism and consumerism. I believe in capitalism and a free market but I also believe in caring and stewarding our resources and for caring for one another. What I like especially about the local food movement and of urban homesteading is that it is a call to a simpler way of life. It is a call to the basics, living with less, appreciating the ordinary, and building community and family. And as such, we receive so much more! It is my hope that our country focuses less on quantity and more on quality in every aspect. So what about the American Dream? Let's build a country that takes our richest resources our lands, our waters and each other, and uses them in a way that we can all benefit and prosper from for generations. It is our social responsibility. This is the call to patriotism that Woody Guthrie is championing.

Want to learn more about homesteading? Every Monday, I'm taking part in the homestead barn hop aimed at getting those of us interested in the topic well connected to one another. Learn more about getting back to the basics by clicking on the barn hop logo!

1 comment:

  1. I like the Guthries; my mother was a beatnik and I grew up listening to Woody, as well as Arlo. Thanks for posting :-)

    I also live in the PNW. "Glad to know 'ya!"