Read a Poem – or Eat a Peach – for Peace

by Joe Scarry

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

(from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot)

We are in a phenomenal moment right now. There are numerous opportunities for all of us to think differently — and to change the world by doing so.

In particular, I keep asking myself, “What would happen if people opened their minds about Iran?” The presence of the new president of Iran, and his peace overtures at the UN, are creating the perfect moment for all of us to step outside our comfort zones.

It’s made me stop and think: maybe we can encourage many more people to see things in a new light. Maybe this is the meaning of a “mass movement” — a large number of people moving a little, rather than just a few people moving a lot.

I’m reminded of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I identify strongly with the timid Prufrock, for whom little steps are momentous (“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?”). Doing new things — and thinking in new ways — is difficult.

I wish I were more of a revolutionary. But it helps to know that one of my heroes – Duane Allman – had similar thoughts. “There ain’t no revolution, it’s evolution, but every time I’m in Georgia I eat a peach for peace.” (See the article about the Allman Brothers album Eat a Peach” on Wikipedia.)

I guess this is what Robert Greenwald had in mind with his Rethink Afghanistanproject. His invitation was simple: Maybe there’s a different way to think about this.(That was one of the first things that got me really active in the antiwar movement.)

Let’s face it: what we all really want is for our lives to have meaning — ideally BIG meaning, meaning in really cosmic ways! Or, as Eliot said,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question

That is, to bring on some high, life-and-death drama!

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

But doesn’t it all start with a little, nearly insignificant, opening of the mind?

Go ahead . . . that mermaid is singing to you

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