across the sea

Across the sea

 The return of passenger ships on the high seas
had been welcomed by many

 Airplanes had been polluting the skies for a century,
and so it was with great pleasure
that people began to cross the seas by ship
again

 From New York to Hamburg,
from San Francisco to Hong Kong,
and to and from
a few other places
ships sailed once a week,
taking a week or two,
and sometimes three,
to reach their destination

 And they were always full
because many people had finally realized
that it was time to begin doing things slowly
and in a sustainable manner

 The ships resembled those that used to cross the oceans,
in recognition of the fact
that it was generally not necessary
to change a design
every year

 The propellers were quieter than those on earlier ships
so as not to disturb the whales,
and a few other dashes of modernity
could be seen here and there,
but the ships were otherwise as beautiful and elegant
as their foremothers

 The cabins were unpretentious yet beautiful,
and the meals were simple and healthy
There was a music room
for those who had brought instruments
and a meditation hall
for those in need of absolute silence

 These ships were unlike modern cruise ships
in that no food was wasted
and no effort was made
to entertain the passengers
People were encouraged to enjoy simple pleasures
such as watching the passing dolphins,
looking at the stars
and talking with each other
now and then

 On board the Sea Flower
the evening jam was underway,
and a few of the passengers were dancing
while some of the others drank tea
and ate cookies

 Sure, it takes longer,
but why hurry?
I’d rather spend two weeks on a comfortable boat
than twelve hours on an uncomfortable plane

 Me too
It so nice that passenger ships exist again
Trains and ships
are my favorite ways to travel

 Mine too
They don’t pollute nearly as much
as cars and planes,
and one is free to get up and walk around

 Yeah
And we can gradually adjust to a new climate

 It’s really nice
that the use cameras and telephones
is prohibited while on board,
and that there is no access
to the Internet

 Yeah
Here we have the chance to connect
in a different way

 It’s also nice
that there are no plastic bottles on the ship
In fact,
I don’t think there is any plastic at all

 Yeah,
our great-grandparents managed to thrive
without plastic
We should be able to do so as well
It’s insane
that people buy water in plastic bottles
That’s one of the reasons the ocean is full of plastic
and the fish are dying
People think that the plastic they throw in the recycling bin
gets recycled somehow,
but often it simply ends up in the ocean
or gets sent to China,
where it is burned in an incinerator
and then comes back with the wind

 And then we breathe it in

 Yeah
Plastic sucks

 Yeah
I prefer to buy drinks
that come in glass bottles

 Me too

 When I am traveling,
I always carry a metal water bottle in my bag,
but sometimes I run out of water and feel thirsty,
so I buy a Coke
It’s often the only drink available
in a glass bottle

 Yeah
And in many countries
those bottles are washed and reused

 Yeah,
that’s pretty cool

 Coke has done some pretty uncool things too

 So has Pepsi

 Yeah
They both go around buying lakes
that belong to everyone nearby
and then take away their water

 Yeah,
and they pollute the area around their factories

 Yeah
Making Coke and Pepsi
is a rather toxic process

 Yeah

 I used to drink a lot of Coke

 Me too
I like it better than Pepsi

 And then one day I decided to stop eating and drinking
unhealthy things,
so I began to limit myself
to one bottle of Coke a week
I’d have it on Friday after work
with a bag of Kettle Chips

 Kettle Chips are good
Which flavor do you like best?

 Honey Mustard

 Honey Mustard is pretty good
I like Salt and Vinegar too

 After a few months
I realized that I wasn’t enjoying Coke
as much as before,
so I began to drink it only once a month

 Good idea
I’ve cut back on Coke too

 I still have a Coke about once a month,
but now I only enjoy it half the time
Often I tell myself I should stop buying it altogether,
but sometimes it is quite nice

 It would be great
if someone were to produce a healthy cola

Yeah,
one that came in a glass bottle

 Glass is cool

 Yeah

 The two friends then fell silent
and began to observe
the whales that were swimming nearby

 ♫ ♫ ♫

herbicide

Herbicide

 The court finds you guilty of herbicide
for the slaughter of a Cannabis indica plant
that was growing in your neighbor’s backyard
I hereby sentence you
to three months in the Greenhouse

 As the verdict was read,
the district attorney smiled
and then nodded to the deceased’s friends and relatives
as they sat quietly in their pots
in the front row of the gallery

 The defendant was then escorted out of the room
and taken to the Greenhouse,
also know as Oregon State Penitentiary 420

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Welcome to the Greenhouse,
said a guard
Hopefully during your stay here
you’ll learn to appreciate other forms of life
and to respect their right to live

 The prisoner was given a uniform made of hemp
and then shown to his cell

 His cellmate was smoking a joint when he moved in,
and he declined the offer
to smoke with him

 It’s good stuff, man,
Mendocino’s finest

 I don’t smoke

 They give us space cakes for dessert
after the afternoon meal
No need to smoke

 I don’t take drugs

 It’s not a drug, man,
it’s a plant,
and nature provides it for a reason,
like mushrooms

 I prefer alcohol

 Dude,
alcohol numbs your senses
and too much of it encourages you to act like an idiot
or become aggressive
Thousands of people die every year because of alcohol,
but almost no one has killed anyone
or died
as a result of smoking pot

 I just have a little wine with dinner

 I enjoy wine too
now and then
I have nothing against alcohol;
it has to right to be
My father makes a pretty good apricot liquor

 My uncle makes a nice Cabernet Sauvignon

 Homemade is hard to beat
What I object to is the government supporting something
that in general does more harm than good
and prohibiting something
that does more good than harm
I think the alcohol companies must have bribed the government
to get them to ban weed
so that they could sell more alcohol
I can’t think of any other reason
why they would act so stupidly,
in contradiction
of common sense

 Hmm,
could be
The car companies bribed the government officials in LA
and asked them to dismantle the streetcar network
so that they could sell more cars

 Yeah,
what a mistake that was
It’s ridiculous that one needs a car
to get around in that town

 What are the benefits of smoking weed?

 It mellows people out,
softens the edge that they project
and inspires creativity
And people who smoke weed
tend to flow better than those who don’t

 Some people flow pretty well
without taking anything

 True,
but why deny others
the chance to do something beneficial
that doesn’t harm anyone?
Have you ever tried it?

 No
I’ve heard that it leads to heroin addiction

 Do you believe everything you hear?

 No

 Don’t believe the propaganda
I don’t use heroin,
and I’ve been smoking grass for years
And if you use a vaporizer,
it won’t damage your lungs at all

 What are you in here for?

 For cutting down a large portion of the primeval forest
I was clear-cutting a redwood grove
when the green squad captured me
What about you?

 I killed my neighbor’s marijuana plant

 Dude, that’s not cool

 Neither is clear-cutting the primeval forest —
or any forest

 Right you are
Since I’ve been in the Greenhouse,
I’ve planted thirteen thousand trees —
more or less

 That’s a lot
Where have you planted them?

 They let me out on the weekends
I take saplings from the prison nursery
and plant them in the areas that I deforested

 Cool
How long have you been here?

 Two years and thirty-seven days
Only three hundred and twenty-eight days to go
How long did they give you?

 Three months

 Three months will pass quickly
You can help out in the nursery if you like
It’s a lot better than sitting in here all day
Since you killed a marijuana plant,
they’ll probably ask you to take care of them

 You grow ganja here in the prison?

 Sure
It’s legal now
We grow very nice weed,
and we sell it in the prison gift shop
and to the local hospice centers

 Hospice centers are cool

 Yeah,
I’d much rather die in a hospice center
or at home
than in a hospital

 I think I’d like to die at home,
surrounded by a few friends playing gentle music
and then be buried in a field
and have a tree planted on top of me
No need for a coffin

 Good idea
Cemeteries take up a lot of space,
and we could use more trees

 Yeah,
we could use a lot more trees
Sometimes I have the feeling
that there are more people than trees

 Me too
There are definitely way too many people on this planet
In 1900 there were only around a billion
and now there are more than seven billion

 It can’t continue like this;
it’s not sustainable
If people don’t stop having so many children,
the planet will create a disease
that will kill off most of us —
some kind of plague like they used to have in Europe

 Yeah,
I suppose the planet knows how to take care of itself
It’s been very patient with us,
but we’ve really been pushing the limits of tolerance lately

 I recently read that the Japanese government is worried
about the decline in population in Japan
What idiots!
They should be happy
In countries where there are not many people,
the standard of living is much higher
Finland has a lot more trees than people,
and the Finns are doing pretty well
There’s plenty of space for everyone

 Yeah
If every country had a small population,
everyone could live pretty much wherever they wanted
without having to pay rent
or buy groceries
They could just eat whatever they found growing naturally
and plant a garden or a food forest if they felt like it

 The Japanese government
also wants to start using nuclear power again
Anyone who didn’t learn from Fukushima
must be super retarded

 Yeah
Unfortunately we’re still using nuclear power here
I guess our politicians aren’t any smarter
than the ones in Japan

 I’m not sure that any of them are very intelligent —
except for the president of Uruguay

 Yeah,
Mujica is okay
He’s clearly serving the interests of the people,
not some big companies —
and he gives away ninety percent of his salary

 Yeah,
he’s super cool

 Václav Havel was alright too

 Yeah,
and they both served time in prison

 Maybe it’s necessary to do time
in order to be a good president

 Maybe

 Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso was pretty cool too

 Did he serve time?

 I don’t think so,
but he played the guitar pretty well

 Cool

 And he kicked out the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

 Good riddance
Those guys go around devastating third world countries

 Yeah, I remember when they destroyed Jamaica’s dairy industry
After the government agreed to accept funds from the IMF,
they were required to allow the import of powdered milk from the States,
and because it was cheaper than fresh milk,
everyone bought it
The dairy farmers could not compete and slaughtered their cows,
and then there was no fresh milk in Jamaica
The IMF and the World Bank operate under the pretense
that they are helping poor countries,
but in reality they are merely serving the interests
of businessmen from wealthy countries

 Which company is it
that keeps trying to convince mothers in Africa and Viet Nam
that infant formula is better for their children than breast milk?

 Nestlé
And that’s why I don’t buy their products anymore
I don’t want to support a company
that does things like that

 Neither do I
I’ll stop buying their candy bars

 The problem is that most of the big companies
do really horrible things
It’s pretty hard to find a good one,
so I’ve begun to make my own junk food,
a healthier version

 What do you make?

 I really like Cheez-its,
especially the white cheddar ones

 Me too
They’re the best

 The original flavor is pretty good too

 Yeah,
but white cheddar is divine

 I looked up how to make Cheez-its online
and I found a video
It’s super easy:
You just fry some cheese in a pan for a few minutes,
flip it over and fry it some more
Then you cut it into squares
Parmesan cheese works really well

 Cool

 There’s the lunch bell
Come,
I’ll show you the way

 The two prisoners then made their way
to the dinning hall

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Mmm,
this soup is really good

 Yeah,
tomato weed is my favorite here

 Tomato is a weed?

 No, man,
they put weed in the soup,
like the people in Lao,
to mellow us out

 Oh
It’s pretty good
Now I understand why the Lao
are so gentle, calm and peaceful
Are we allowed to have another bowl?

 Sure
We can have as much soup as we like

 Cool
Maybe I’ll try one of those brownies too

 And so the two cellmates enjoyed their meal
and then returned to their cell

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It’s two o’clock
Time for a walk
Want to come?

 Sure

 And so the prisoners went out into the yard
and began to mingle with the others

 Some of the guys have a big P on the back of their shirts

 They’re from P Block
The P stands for pollution
Those guys polluted our air and water
with chemicals and fumes from their factories
When they arrive here, they have to drink and shower
with water from polluted rivers for a month,
so that they get an idea of the suffering they have caused other beings,
and if that doesn’t kill them,
they are given clean water,
and they have to stay here for a minimum of ten years
without the possibility of parole

 I’m glad they’re in here with us
I’d love for our rivers and air to be clean again
What about the ones with an A on their shirt?

 They’re architects who designed buildings that are so ugly
that people feel pain in their eyes
or go blind
when they look at them

 A Block must be pretty big

 It’s one of the biggest

 So it’s not just green-collar criminals that get sent here

 Nope

 I’ve heard of people dying from depression
because they lived in an area full of ugly buildings

 Some have heart attacks
when they are confronted with exceptionally bad architecture

 How long are they in here for?

 One year for each ugly building they made,
and while they’re here
they learn how to make environmentally-friendly buildings,
how to make adobe bricks and thatched roofs,
how to collect and save rainwater,
how to draw a curved line

 Nice thick adobe walls are best
They keep a room cool in the summer
and warm in the winter
How about the guys with an F?

 Those are farmers who used chemicals
They have herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers put in their food
the first month they are here,
and if they survive,
they are given organic food like the rest of us
It sounds cruel,
but many of them only put chemicals on the food they sold,
not on what they grew for themselves
They need to feel the effects of those chemicals
in order to generate compassion among them
for the people they feed
Then they are taught how to farm the traditional way,
without chemicals,
and they learn about companion planting,
using ducks to control pests
and things like that

 Cool
It’s about time farmers stopped poisoning us
and the bees that pollinate their crops

 Yeah,
the bees have really suffered
The chemical farmers have been ruthless

 Who are the guys with Vs,
and why are some of them wearing a ball and chain?

 They’re the violent ones
The ones with a ball and chain have refused to attend
the courses that were designed to turn them into peaceful people
The ball and chain makes it really difficult for them
to go around attacking other prisoners
We can easily avoid them

 What kind of courses do the ones without the ball and chain attend?

 They start with a ten-day Goenka vipassana meditation course,
and then they learn how to grow flowers
They prepare the beds,
plant the seeds,
water and weed,
trim the wilted blossoms
and make nice flower arrangements for the dinning hall
After that they learn how to conduct a Japanese tea ceremony
and finally they are given a pet to take care of

 Sounds like a good way to foster change
and not simply punish

 Yes
Here at the Greenhouse
the inmates learn other ways of being

 I don’t see anyone with a D on his shirt

 All the people who were in here for non-violent drug offenses
were set free a few months ago
to make space for all of the green-collar criminals
who have recently been prosecuted

 Just then a call to drum could be heard
from somewhere not too far away,
followed by the prison’s drum ensemble
playing Balakuland

 It must be four twenty,
time to smoke a joint and make music
Almost everyone here
has learned how to play an instrument
Lessons are given in the morning,
small groups of musicians meet after lunch or after dinner
to play together,
and at four twenty the drummers let us know
that it’s time for the open jam

Those guys are pretty good

 Yeah
Sometimes they’re let out
so that they can play at parties and festivals
Do you play an instrument?

 No

 Not yet
Come,
I’ll take you to the music room
You can choose whatever instrument you like

 Okay

 And so the two friends made their way through the prison
as the other inmates
continued to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

waiting for the oleanders

Waiting for the oleanders

 The oleanders have begun
to release their scent

 Yeah
I’ve been waiting for them for weeks

 Me too

 The white ones smell very nice

 The red ones smell pretty good too

 And the frangipani flowers are divine

 They’re extraordinary
Have you noticed the scent of the papaya blossoms?

 Not yet

 It’s quite subtle
but very nice

 Let’s have a smell

 And so the two friends walked over
to where some papayas were growing
and smelled the blossoms
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

school sucks

School sucks

 If I had a child,
I would definitely not send her to school

 Me either
School sucks

 Monkeys don’t go to school
They learn from their parents
and from the others in their troupe

 Yeah,
and they seem to be doing quite well
and are perhaps better off than most humans

 They’re pretty smart
When they’re hungry they just pick some fruit
or dig up some peanuts,
and otherwise they just hang out and enjoy being

 We could live like the monkeys
We don’t really need much,
just a bit of shelter,
some warm clothes in winter
and a bit of food

 The only math I’ve ever needed
I learned in primary school

 Me too:
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

 And I learned how to read and write
in primary school

 Yeah

 Primary school was okay

 Yeah,
I liked it too,
but after that school began to suck

 Yeah
What’s the point in writing an essay about Madame Bovary?

 Or the significance of the color blue
in Tonka?

 It would be better to take some blue paint
and paint flowers on a wall

 Or play a song on a guitar

 Or sing

 Or dance

 Or meditate

 Or learn how to roast cashews properly

 No need to go to school
to learn how to sing and dance

 Or to paint or play the guitar

 School kills
a child’s creativity

 Yeah, school kills

 It turns out zombies
that then go about destroying the planet
by creating and consuming garbage

 School teaches children
how to destroy the planet,
how to destroy their home

 It’s because of schools
that we have idiots who create nuclear power
and poison the earth

 Yeah,
without schools
the planet would be in much better shape

 People too

 Yeah

 When I asked Mardan to write down his address,
he told me that he didn’t know how to write
He said,
I didn’t go to school
I’m natural

 And he’s one of the nicest men in the village
The ones who can read and write
are not nearly as nice

 Vocational schools are okay

 Yeah,
vocational schools are cool
Learning how to be a carpenter,
a chef
or a stone mason
is definitely worthwhile

 We could use a few more stone masons
Stone structures
are much nicer than concrete ones

 Yeah,
concrete sucks

 And stones are healthier

 Stone walls are cool

 Stone floors are pretty cool too

 Yeah,
and so are earth floors
that have been covered with cow dung

 Yeah,
cow dung floors are great
They cover the earth
and they’re very comfortable

 The locals here know how build their own homes,
make their own clothes
and grow their own food and cook,
and they learned how from their parents and neighbors
No need for school

 Yeah,
I sure wasted a lot of time in school
learning how to do things I have never needed to do
instead of learning the essential skills
that a human needs to survive
and to thrive

 I have met a few young Europeans
who never went to school
and they are really cool
Their parents let them learn what they wanted
when and how they wanted,
and they turned out just fine
One of them speaks three languages,
plays the guitar very well,
and he has never had to take an exam
or compete for a job
Because he is so cool,
a master guitar builder offered to teach him
how to make guitars,
and he earns a living doing that

 Cool

 Hey,
there’s the truant officer

 I’ll go sound the alarm

 And soon the village bell was ringing
in a such a way that all the children in the village
knew it was time to hide,
and they climbed up into the trees,
went in one of the caves
or slipped inside a haystack
and hung out with the cobras
while waiting for the truant officer to leave

 ♫ ♫ ♫

fire

Fire

 From the evening fire
nourishing energy flowed,
and a few held out their hands to receive it

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 There’s more than heat
coming from the fire

 Yeah
And it’s strong

 Very strong

 And nourishing

 I’ve heard of people who don’t eat,
who get their energy from the sun

 Maybe it’s possible to live off of the fire’s energy

 Maybe,
but I wouldn’t want to give up chocolate —
especially that blueberry chocolate from Finland

 Yeah,
the Finns make pretty good chocolate

 The two friends then fell silent
and returned their attention
to the fire

 ♫ ♫ ♫

doctor susi

Doctor Susi

 Good morning,
is the doctor in?

 The last time I saw her
she was running around in the forest

 About an hour ago
I saw her digging a hole
in a flower bed

 She was eating the dogs’ food
a few minutes ago

 There she is

 Susi came trotting towards the people
and greeted them with her snout

 She’s —
a pig

 A wild pig

 What kind of medicine does she practice?

 Love and joy
Just hang out with her for a while
and you’ll be cured
of most of your problems

 Yeah,
she’s good
She cured Ingo in less than a month

 Susi then took off
and headed down the road

 Looks like she’s heading towards the peanut fields

 Darshan with Susi
is often brief
unless one is willing to walk with her

 A walk would be wonderful

 The woman then took off her shoes
and began to follow Susi
around the farm

 ♫ ♫ ♫

a visit

A visit

 The mistress of the house
heard some commotion
and came out of the kitchen to see
what was going on
And she was just in time

 She yelled at the driver of a car
and told him to stop,
and then three drunken, spoiled and belligerent men from Bangalore
stumbled out of the car
after managing to bring it to a halt
just a few millimeters before the water fountain
in the heart of the farm

 The driver wore only his underwear
and he smoked non-stop,
now and then throwing cigarette butts
here and there

 Who are you to tell me to stop?

 This is my farm

 I have come to visit

 Please move your car
The parking area is near the gate

 I can do whatever I like
Someone told me about this place
and I came here to be free,
to free my soul

 You are not behaving
in respectful manner
You’re drunk
and you almost crashed into the fountain,
and your car does not belong
in the heart of my home
Please move it

 The three drunks had been acting rather aggressively,
so within minutes of their arrival
a number of the farmhands had come,
armed with pitchforks, machetes and scyths,
to protect their mistress

 Shall I kill them, Ama?
There’s plenty of room left in the rubbish pit,
and we’re planning on burning the rubbish later this afternoon

Let’s give them a chance to leave

 Two of the drunks were not quite as drunk as the driver,
so while one of the farmhands
sharpened his machete,
it was suggested that one of them move the car

 I can’t do anything
The driver is my owner

 Your owner is an idiot
Perhaps you should find yourself a new owner

 He might kill someone
if he manages to make it back to the main road
Perhaps we should take his keys

 Those guys are super aggressive
They wouldn’t give up the keys
without a fight,
and beating them up
would have undesirable consequences
We have to either kill them
or wait for them to leave

Killing them would be a bit harsh
Compassion is best
Let’s wait for them to leave

 We could sic the camel on them

 Or the boar

 Yusseff can kick sideways,
and he can pick up a donkey with his mouth
and throw it twenty meters

 Yeah,
Yusseff is strong
The driver might drop the keys in fear
if he sees Yusseff coming in his direction

 Susi could ram them with her snout
Then he’d drop the keys for sure
Last year she killeded Raja the ram
when she rammed him
She’s like a torpedo

 A light jab to the gut with a pitchfork
would change their attitude

 I could graze the driver’s neck with the machete
That might motive them to go

 I have the right to be here
I want to be free

 You should come back another time
when you’re not drunk
Perhaps then we could talk
about freeing your soul
Right now you need to move your car
or let someone else move it

 After some time,
the driver finally shut up and got back into the car,
put it into reverse
and very slowly
tried to move backwards

 Drive straight,
you idiot

 The driver had backed into a flower bed
and knocked over a hibiscus bush

 Eventually he made it back to the gate,
but instead of leaving he parked
and the three drunks hung out near the gate alone
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 They’re leaving, Ama

 Good

 They just hit the neighbor’s motorbike
and knocked it off the road
and into a ditch

 It would be best if they hit a boulder
before they get to the main road,
so that they don’t kill anyone

 Everyone then returned to sweeping
or weeding
or cooking
or whatever else they had been doing
before the visit

 ♫ ♫ ♫