Archive for November, 2010

“Re” words are everywhere. Like the bedbugs that have invaded NYC, they’re massing out there in the thousands. They’re all the rage. They fill the radio airways, they boil out in the babble on TV, they pile up in newspaper commentaries and they spill out of magazines like a blizzard of “special offer” coupons. You can even spot them in casual conversations in restaurants. It seems there’s a ‘re’ word for every ill and every circumstance. Some come without hyphens, like reduce, renovate, recreate, and replenish; some come with hyphens, like re-cycle, re-use, re-animate, and re-generate. Take your pick. There are some common ones, like reconnoiter, restructure, reconsider, reconnaissance, and restore; and there are some vaguely exotic ones, like re-skilling, re-inhabit, and re-localize. Ponder these for a moment: re-fit, re-source, replenish, re-evaluate, re-work, re-new, re-fresh, re-vision. Let all of them tumble together like glistening promises in the palm of your consciousness.

It’s not surprising in this broken and fragmented time that we are looking not just for reassurance, not just for fixes, but for renewal. “Re” words are appropriate responses to our troubled and conflicting desires. They are curious hybrids of the old and the true, and the new and the untested or unknown. As they reach for the future they don’t merely acknowledge the past, but often embrace it with gusto. Often “re” words seem to be products of a spirit of hopefulness and optimism, e.g., rejuvenate, yet they often carry an implied load of past disappointment and disillusionment, e.g. redress. Some seem aimed at addressing some lingering grievance or shortcoming, e.g., realign and recover. With so many of their roots tangled in history and tradition, some can carry the weight of centuries, e.g., renaissance.

Let’s harness some of the more frisky “re” words and ride them into the future. It’s high time to re-assess, re-group, respond, and rebound. While some folks just want to revise, that’s probably not wise. And just re-stocking, may not be reasonable in this time of reduced resources. And just as re-siding a house won’t re-new a rotten structure, indeed it will probably make it less sound, re-wording usually only replaces one tired script with an equally tired re-hash. Repeating, re-doing or re-winding the same old tape is not a real option. That only gets us a re-run. And that would really be regrettable.

Now is not the time for recidivism and retrenchment. Now is not the time for mere reform and reinstatement. Now is the time to reactivate radical remedies: active resistance, lively resilience and creative re-purposefulness. Only through direct action can we re-affirm and re-claim our full birthright as whole people in a restored world.

Let’s start by re-claiming our full rights to grow whatever and however many foods we wish and to feed ourselves as we choose with what we choose.

(BTW: Replies will generate responses.)


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