The Common Good

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his [or her] own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate…Part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” ~Elizabeth Warren

We live with an idealized myth in the United States that our economy exists within a purely free market. Free of responsibility. Free of accountability. Free to make unlimited profits. Yet when we look deeper into the reality of the American economy, we see that it exists only as a result of the generosity and wisdom of the Native peoples who have lived on this land for thousands of years and through the work of generations of immigrants, some voluntarily, and others through force. When we honestly examine the underpinnings of this economy we see how thousands of Indigenous people perished or were pushed off their ancestral homelands to make room for a certain ideal of progress.

Those of us whose ancestors were enslaved, dispossessed of their lands and cultures, or oppressed in any other number of ways, know within our hearts that the markets of this country are not truly free. They are built on the backs of the dispossessed, the enslaved, and the poor.

This American economy that we are so frantic to save has been founded on the exploitation of the natural world as well. In our relentless quest for increased material consumption we have lost balance with our relations on the earth. The present financial crisis offers us now an opportunity to work towards reconciliation, not only with one another but with our very own Mother Earth and with all of her children. The survival of our species depends on this balance. Indeed, science and religion both tell us how we are inextricably linked with all other forms of creation.

So here we are, alive right now, with all that we have survived and inherited. What is it that we can do to help not only ourselves, but to serve each other and the future generations?

How do we redefine and transform our economy into a life-giving sustainable force in the world, inclusive of all?

Each one of us has a part in this cosmic healing. I feel blessed to know that my part involves creating and sharing music in joyful ways that build and strengthen communities.

On 11/11/11 I will be helping to celebrate the release of the “We Are Dream Seekers” CD with the Dream Seekers Native American youth group at American Indian Health and Family Services (AIHFS) in Detroit. I had the pleasure to help write songs with the youth and to record and produce this CD with the group over the last year.

In addition to the songs I helped write, the album features original and traditional songs in English and Ojibwe by Frank Animikwam, Nickole Fox, Karen Schaumann and Native American youth at AIHFS. Sales of this CD will benefit Dream Seekers youth programs at AIHFS.

I am grateful to know that I will continue to have many opportunities to do my little part to contribute to the common good in these coming months. I welcome your support along this path.

In recognition of you and your ancestors’ contributions to the common good,

Joe

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