Joseph's Dreamcoat

Don't Feed the Hungry Ghost

Joseph Carr

Joseph Carr
Portland, Oregon, USA
March 04
United States Public Education
My name is Joseph. I am an English teacher and an advocate for social change, mainly in the form of the abolishment of patriarchy, imperialism, racism, and the psychic slaughter of the human race.


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 22, 2011 4:32PM

Middle Schoolers' Letter to Earth for Earth Day

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I teach at an Expeditionary Learning School in Oregon.  It is one of the coolest jobs I've ever had.  We ask our students to interact with the world around them, and to learn through experience and service.  Today, we wrote, as a class, an open letter to Earth in honor of Earth Day.  I thought that I would share it here.

Happy Earth Day....Earth!

Dear Earth,

We, the 7th and 8th grade crew, are writing you a letter. This will consist of various bits of wisdom, advice, hope, or fear from each member of our class. We hope you enjoy and we'd love to hear from you soon.

First off, we are sorry. We are slow learners. Some of us mean well by you, and promise to take steps to improve on our treatment of you. We will strive to serve as a model for others in the hopes that the masses will one day appreciate you as we do.
- Mr. Joe

I hope people take better care of you. First, you need to give us warm weather. Everybody is cranky when there are no warm spells. We still should take care of you, even when it's cold for seven months. They'd be happier and want to take care of you more.
- C.Jo

Tell your trees to run away. I want to use less paper and pencils. Instead, I will use pens. I like you Earth. You're a loving planet. I appreciate you. Happy Earth Day.
- B.B.

I am sorry we are screwing up your ozone. I am trying hard to keep you clean. My favorite place on you so far is in a forest next to a stream. You are truly beautiful. I wish we could clean you up entirely. I also wish I could talk to you face to face.
- M.Mu

Thank you for giving us life. Without you we would be nothing. With our current situation, we are in a lot of trouble. I'm sure you are feeling the pain we are inflicting upon you. Some are trying to do as much as they can, while others have no hope. I fear you, just like a person, will someday die. We all have good intentions, and hope you live on forever.
- K.J.

Well, I fear we are going to lose you. I feel we are going to kill you in our mistreatment of you. This is getting out of hand. We are scarring you with all of our trash and pollution. You are the reason of our existence, but we treat you like dirt. I hope we learn our lesson before it is too late.
- R.S.

We are sorry for polluting, bombing, and leaving blood stains across your surface. We need you. You are the biggest mass. We do not treat you rightly, therefore we are sorry. We appreciate your understanding, and will try better in the future.
- A.H.

I'm sorry that we have abused your beauty and used it for our own personal gain. I would like to say I never meant harm but enjoyment from your vast hills. I believe others feel the same, and we are all sorry.
- T.S.

We love you. Without you, we would not be here. But I know some people treat you badly and pollute you. I'm sorry we bomb you and are killing you. I really hope people learn to treat you nicely and learn that you are a living planet. Because, if we don't, I fear that we will lose you.
- J.S.

I am happy that you are here. You are the only planet that bares life. I know that you have gone through many times of pain and suffering. But there are many people who are trying to help you and use the materials that you have given. There are many things that you have given us that we use in excess and I am sorry for it. But there are many things that you have given us in nature, like fishing and hunting, which are my favorite things to do and I thank you.
- D.H.

I hope you can forgive us for you giving you pain. Our class is trying to help you recover. I appreciate everything you've given me because you work hard to produce the things we need. I am doing my best to keep you alive. It breaks my heart to see how people are trying to destroy you. I hope you live a long time. I hope we fix what we have caused you. You deserve to be treated with respect and love.
- L.A.

We are afraid of learning and caring. We spit and pollute you. You give us life and we give you pain. You give us beauty and we give you blood stains. We mistake beauty for our own good. We throw away beauty for darkness and ugliness.
- H.J.

I enjoy being alive and so do many other people. You have the awesome power and we destroy you. I hope in the future, things will get better for all of us. Hopefully our world will not be destroyed by us. Earth, thank you for everything. We really appreciate it.
- C.E.

I am glad that you're here. If you weren't, I wouldn't be here. And no one else would be here. And that would suck. But we are, so it's all good. I and we are so sorry we are not cleaning you up. You are amazing, but when you end I will hate you. We need to clean you up and stop polluting so we don't die.
- E.D.

As you may know, I'm trying to go outside more and not watch t.v. or play video games. What I do when I play outside is play lacrosse, ride my bike, and hang out with my friends at the park. I hope that this is helping to make a difference.
- A.G.

I hope you are having a good Earth Day. It probably isn't, because you are constantly being drilled into and burned and broken. You are also constantly being polluted, driven on, dug through, and split apart. You are being fought on and over and having your tress chopped down. Happy Earth Day anyways.
- M.Mi

People have been mistreating you for a long time. People litter, waste energy, pollute, and it's horrible. But some people try to help and clean up after others. Please don't blow up on us anytime soon.
- S.M.

You have been giving us food, water, and resources. You've given us shelter and many other things that we need. And you've been protecting us from the meteors that have been passing us.
- A.F.

How are you? Is everything going well? I just want to tell you that I feel truly sorry for you. I hope things will turn out well for you. I know we will fix this problem. Oh, and stick to alternative fuels, they're good for you.
- C.Ja

Hello Earth. I just want to tell you that I'm sorry for pulling out the grass and accidentally breaking some branches once in a while. I know it must suck to be Earth while us humans are destroying you. We're killing you very slowly and I am sorry for this.
- C.R.W.


                                                                                    7/8 Crew


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they see the problem, but no one in america will tell them the cause.
Good lesson. And they sound like a nice group of kids.
This is good. It's interesting that children think in terms of love and caring about the environment in a literal way. I remember how much I loved being outside, under the stars, when I was a child, and now I don't do this often enough.
Reply from a Prophet
After reading Richard Wilber’s “Advice to a Prophet”; this poem written in a style similar to his.

When I come, as soon I surely must, to the streets of the city,
tear-eyed from crying certain death,
proclaiming your impending fall, beseeching you
in your own name to have self-scorn,

I will not spare you words of war, their weapons and rage,
the long trails of heat that burn the mind;
your proud unflinching hearts will destroy your kind,
unable to prevent the coming age

When you shall cower from the death of the race.
Begin to dream this place without you,
the sun on fire, the leaves scarred and withered,
A stern look on the cracked stone’s face.

I speak of earth’s impending change. You conceive it not and laugh
about this silly thing, and know not to your cost
how all that lives you made decay,
the seas polluted and the vines crushed to soot.

How naive your view! You could believe it
if I told you that the yellow-tailed deer
and red mottled fox will vanish in a clearing,
the jay toss her deformed eggs and curl to die,

the great oak grow stunted and seer
and lose its hold, and every stream and river
lose its brassy brine, its shiny salmon
struck dead from poison. Wait till you exist without

the dolphin’s play or the robin’s return,
these things in which you see yourself
and turn your head away instead,
your muted call of nature forth dispelled.

You have spoken of the fear of time in the clear
mouth of courage, in which distilled
the crackling lotus of the atom killed
all you crave or wish to crave.

With great remorse I tell you the thorny rose
of your hearts shall prick, come reprimanding
your lofty life and long standing place on top
when the final pages of your chapter close.
Hi Kids,

This is Earth speaking, returning your love and thanking you for seeing and caring what is happening to me.

You're part of me and I'm part of you. We're going all through some major changes. If your heart is pure and you keep open to our connection, you'll be all right. It's the ones with closed hearts, the ones who are harming me and the life on this planet, who are not going to make it through these changes. I am life; I can stop a heart just like that! I have given all of you lots of chances to wake up and understand what you're doing to yourselves. You are slow learners; I agree. Whenever you play in the rain or run in the forest, whenever you grow flowers or tomatoes or anything at all, whenever you go swimming in the sea or walk upon me, open all of your senses and take in my love for you. I trust you. I trust the children to show the adults the way.
Al: You're right. Since these are 7th and 8th graders, all I can do is teach them how to think and then hope for the best as they enter young adulthood. I will say, they have empathy and that's a great weapon for the future.

Skinnydave: Thanks so much. They're a pleasure to work with and are a shining example of what charters can do when they're run the right way.

BOKO: Their outlook keeps me young and present and I appreciate how literal they are.

mrtmaninri: What an interesting piece. Thanks for sharing.

Ariel Ky: I find hope in how open these kids are to questioning how the world works. In my charter, we focus on a theme for the entire year. In our case, it's global citizenship. I really believe that these kids will have a leg up when they begin high school. Thanks for the touching response.
Hi kids, thanks for all the letters. It was fun reading them.

I am a great planet. I have everything you need. My riches are abundant. Just when you think you know what I have to offer, you will find more. You don't understand that I can replenish the things that you need.

While it's great that you want to take care of me and I'm glad I want to caution you about those who will use you and me for their own ends. You can spot them if you just look. Look for those who will tell you to write letters but who want to save the trees. Where do they think paper comes from. Ask them how many board feet of lumber are growing in the US right now versus 100 years ago.

I put animals on the planet for you to consume. You must eat. Be careful of those who tell you we must protect all the animals. They will use the "poor defenseless animals" line to try to get you to believe there false stories. I'm sure you have all read about Daniel Boone hunting deer to feed his family. Did you know there are more deer now than there was then? Did you know that there are more Polar Bears now than then? There are now so many Polar Bears they are in trouble of eating all the food that I put out for them. That's how I control their population. Be careful of people who tell you that you must do something or they will die out.

I'm sorry but populations of animals must die out, but you discover the new ones I give you all the time. If I wasn't putting new species of animals on earth don't you think they would have all been discovered by now?

So kids enjoy what I give you. Use it to your best interest and watch those who will tell you what you can't do, but they don't do it themselves or they make huge amounts of money from it. Instead look up to people like the people who make your lumber and toliet paper from my trees, then replant them so they will have more in a few years. They are the responsible ones.

Have a nice day,

Father Earth
Great post. From the mouths of babes...
Catnlion: Glad you're not a teacher. Really glad. If you have kids, they're not alone in having been taught your idiotic lessons. There are many like you. But not for long. You will go away and reason will eventually take root. Not as fast as the trees that the "people who make your lumber" plant that grow in just a few years, but soon enough.

Gigi: Thanks for reading.
I hope this is a private school. Then people are free to choose to have other people's political "propaganda" taught to their kids. If it is a public school, then shame on the school, and really, without harshness implied, you should take a look at whether it is fair to your students and their parents to forward a political agenda on the students' time and the taxpayer's dime.
I hope Catnlion is a teacher. It is nice to have a diversity of thinking in the schools. (That is, if we have to have public schools at all.)

BTW, I'm a teacher and I never, ever, ever let my students know my politics.

Ya, teaching stewardship is propaganda. What a stick in the mud! And "diversity" isn't illiterate ignorance. The spectrum is broad. And teaching is a political act, no matter how you rationalize it in your mind. Give me a break.
I woke up this morning with another message from Gaia for Joseph and his class of students in response to the posts from Barbara Joanne and "Father Earth".

I am Mother Earth, the source and birther of life, not your father! Silly man.

Do not think you can contain the children's growing bond of love with me by your attempts to control this relationship as a political issue that cannot be discussed in the classroom. You can not confuse the children in this matter, nor will you succeed at imposing your own sense of limitation and lack of connectedness upon them, no more than you can continue breathing without the air that I provide.

The children understand how interconnected our lives are. Learn from the children.

And a personal message from Ariel for Joseph, I am also a teacher and have been teaching English for almost 25 years. I weave politics into many of my lessons. Someone who says that you shouldn't have politics in the classroom is someone whose politics clearly support the status quo because they want to suppress any questioning children may have about how decisions are made and policies carried out. It's teachers like you with overreaching themes such as developing global citizenship who will help humanity make the shift to a better world for everyone.
I hope you children are able to grow up and keep these thoughts still in your heads, so that you can actualize your feelings and rescue our planet. My heart breaks to thinks you are growing up with this. I ran and played and jumped in the ocean, when the earth was still young and alive. And that was not that long ago.
I consulted with Noam Chomsky on the issue of politics in the classroom in the context of this thread and another one on ESL/EFL World in which a teacher said that we have a responsibility not to cross the politics/principles of our employer. He responded that a more traditional view is that the primary responsibility of teachers are to their students, the community, and future generations. In fact in a genuinely free university/school administrators and “employers” would adopt the same principles, which are the essence of academic freedom.

Noam Chomsky
Ariel wrote: "I weave politics into many of my lessons. Someone who says that you shouldn't have politics in the classroom is someone whose politics clearly support the status quo because they want to suppress any questioning children may have about how decisions are made and policies carried out."

What a perfect example of narcissism and also, I suspect, part of the reason kids in so many American classrooms don't learn much.

Joseph, to you teaching may be political, but you are just giving an opinion. It is not factually political nor factually, non-political.

Putting your politics into other people's kids is stealing a parents role and stealing the kids' time. Teaching good logic, is super. Discussing various sides of an issue is also grand. Propagandizing for your causes is, sorry to upset you, religious. And, yes, that is just an opinion.

BTW, if Ariel teaches English, as claimed, we are indeed in trouble. Grammar is not her forte. Nor, by the way, is logic.
Noam Chomsky???? Ariel, you need to get out more.
Barbara: You're silly. "Putting politics into...blah, blah..." Do you tell that to the television? Do you tell that to the churches? Do you listen to yourself?! You're saying a bunch of nothing. And your dismissal of Chomsky is even weirder. Where do you get your information? Fox News? Are you a historian, and that's what you meant by "teacher"? And "propagandizing blah, blah..." is simply an instance of the (crack)pot calling the kettle black. Your denial is inspiring. And finally, your fuax intellectualizing is straight up community college lame. Again, stick in the mud. Speaking of kettles, misuse of apostrophes and comma splices are a part of grammar. LAME!
Pam: Thanks for the message and thanks for reading.
You wrote: "Barbara: You're silly. "Putting politics into...blah, blah..." Do you tell that to the television?"

Television is a medium I can turn off or on and of which parents are free to do the same. Most children, especially poorer children, are not free to leave your school and thus, in effect, turn you off.

I have no problem with your propagandizing in private schools. I do have a problem with, especially an English teacher (as opposed to a science teacher) using so-called "Earth Day"' to preach his politics.

You wrote: "Do you tell that to the churches?"

A church is a private place I am free to go to or not. Of course other people are similarly free to attend or not. It is not a public institution with a "captive" audience of students.

You wrote: " Do you listen to yourself?! You're saying a bunch of nothing." Well, you don't actually show that.

You wrote: " And your dismissal of Chomsky is even weirder." Well, I think the old boy is a moral fool and a terrible writer besides. Why is he the font of wisdom? Why is he someone whose views I should respect? He too believes in education as a type of political indoctrination. He is, therefore, as arrogant and his followers.

You wrote: " Where do you get your information? Fox News?" I don't watch TV and I don't live in the USA and I don't have Fox News. BTW, I am not a professional historian, although I am a passionate non-professional historian if you will. I am a teacher. You're a teacher, I'm a teacher, it is hardly something, the profession, unique to you.

You wrote: " Are you a historian, and that's what you meant by "teacher"? And "propagandizing blah, blah..." is simply an instance of the (crack)pot calling the kettle black." Ah, no it isn't. I never show my politics in a class and I do try to allow for a true diversity of viewpoints in any political discussion. I try, indeed really work at it, to keep my politics a secret and allow people to think for themselves.

You wrote: " Your denial is inspiring." Well, I know you don't mean that, but I wish you did.

You wrote: "And finally, your fuax intellectualizing is straight up community college lame."

Well, at least I'd use a dictionary if spelling a French word and try to get it right. I'd also not use "lame" when decrying someone's writing. I'd avoid cliches like "stick in the mud" as well. My point, my friend, is not that it is best to be outdated, old-fashioned, or a "drag" (as you'd no doubt put it), but that it is a type of stealing to use the time you should spend on English usurping the parents' role and getting your kicks by strutting your Leftist political stuff.

By the way, if I have misused an apostrophe, I apologize.

My writing is good, but, alas, not perfect.

(Please note you fail to engage in any argument.)
Yes sirree, I dang left out an apostrophe.

Damn. Poor, stupid, illiterate, community-college graduate me.
And yep, I did have that comma splice. I hope, no doubt like your fuax, it was a simple error, and not a sign of deeper problems.
You wrote: "Ya, teaching stewardship is propaganda. What a stick in the mud! And "diversity" isn't illiterate ignorance. The spectrum is broad."


Please note, I didn't "slam" you for your incomplete sentences. I understand you are probably writing quickly.

I didn't say diversity WAS illiterate ignorance. Your assumption is very odd. I meant a diversity of opinion and I do wonder if you struggle to ensure your classroom lessons offer this. Unless I missed something, nothing in your post indicates you do respect a "broad spectrum" of ideas and thinking.
Mr Joe and Kids,
I understand Oregon to be one of the most fertile parts of America ( you get a lot of rain, right ? ), and that your forests run deep, your streams run clear. I hope you continue to appreciate how beautiful it is, as you grow and find yourselves having to make decisions like Which laundry powder, or Which mode of transport, etc.
Small, daily decisions with long-term impacts on your immediate environment. Recycling, for example - I have a friend, Steve, who drinks a lot of tea, but uses teabags, not leaves in a pot. So what this nutter does, is he takes off the tag, and puts it in the paper bin.
He takes out the staple holding the string to the bag, and puts it in with the cans ; he rolls up the string and puts it in the drawer beneath his knives and forks ( ? ) ; the rest goes into his garden compost.
I say,"Steve, why not just use a teapot ?"
He says, "I like it this way."
I can't argue with that, and besides like I said, he's a nutter. But I love him dearly.
However small, however seemingly insignificant, these little decisions add up. They matter.
I'm writing from Australia. The earth looks beautiful from here.
Wherever I've been, the earth looks beautiful.
Some of the things people have done to it, not so much, but I've seen enormous old open-cut mines eventually fill up with water, and birds live in them now, and fish swim.
Those are big things, and this is just a reminder : It's the little things that count.
Love from Downunder.
Kim: Awesome message. Thanks for sharing. And Oregon is quite beautiful. The salmon are not nearly as plentiful and the Willamette in Portland is disgusting, but people are very aware here of doing the little things. The clear cuts are disturbing and ugly as you travel toward the coast, but that is fought against by a large group of committed activists. As always, there's room for improvement.
BJ: I am sort of honored by your insane clucking, but at this point would love for you to fertilize elsewhere. Even with all of the posturing, I see you're deep as a mud puddle and just as murky. Eww!
Back at you!

It is so odd that if people argue with so-called "liberals" they get the willies. That seems to have happened in your case. Can't you tolerate hearing other people? Why is it CLUCKING if it comes from me, but if you call me out - which is fine - on a grammar mistake it is NOT clucking.? You might need to toughen up my friend!
Joseph, bj is a despicable shrew - I find it more convenient and useful to my readers to simply follow a rule of NO cretins allowed on my blog. bj is one of the VERY few, whom is in that designation.

delete her sorry ignorant as* and spare us her despicable ignorant, and hateful rants

This is a wonderful story with some exceptional words from todays youth about their world. They are Planetpals! Thanks for sharing.