How Much?

How much do I care
About Peace?

Do I care enough about Peace
To ride
My bike to work
To not say, “It’s too far”
And instead just move closer?

And quit when I get there
Say Enough is Enough is
I will not work for the Man

Do I care
Enough About Peace
To ride and ride and ride
Cleaning my mind
Until I find
A real job
Working for everywhere, everyone, everything
Else in the world?

Not real like 9 to 5
Real like keeps me alive
Not real like Peter Jennings
Real like Amy Goodman
Not real like “Somebody’s gotta do it”
Real like Earth Island Institute
Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty
International, Global Exchange
South Yuba River Citizens League
Real like if I don’t do it
Who the hell will?
Do I care
Enough about Peace
To admit
That all inactions are actions
And all actions are votes
Not voting is

To vote

With my mouth
With my conscience and wallet
And my ballot while I‘m at it?

To Buy
All organic

All the time, always
From sheets to roses to
Underwear to sprouts?

To cause
A commotion at Safeway, say
Let me know when you make the transition
And I might reconsider my decision
To never shop here again

To digup
My chemically dependent
Heavy drinking lawn and
Replace it for good
With a permaculture garden
To share
With my neighborhood

To ship
Forty pounds of corn
And 5000 gallons of water
To my refugee pen pal in Rwanda
Every day for a year
Before eating one more mouthful of

To build my house out of straw
Make it small
Fill it with compact florescents
Superinsulate the water heater
Make certain
Every splinter of wood is
J. Butterfly Certified?

And once I‘ve built it
To stay home
To not fly
To forsake air travel
And its suicidal tendency
To warm
Up the world, its
Insatiable greed
For being there and
Here, on the very same day
And Fuck those little plastic cups

To let
My fingers
Do the walking
Right out the door of
The businessasusual yellowpages
And into the National Green Pages
Every time the American in me
Can no longer resist
The urge
To consume Do I care
Enough about Peace
To de-cumulate?
To sell half,
Of my shit,
Then give half of what’s left away
Today? Except for the television
Much like a landmine
Must be destroyed
Before maiming the mind
Of one more little boy

To have
Just one child

To adopt
Between one and eighty eight
And to meditate
On the origins of
Impatience, anger and hate
So that I may never yell
At any of them
Or anyone else I love
Or don’t yet love

To spend
As much time with them
As I do sending
Interoffice email
At my job
Real, or not

To remember
That the truth has been found
I can’t buy from Exxon
Without Prince William Sound
I can’t buy from Chevron
Without hired helicopters
Gunning N’goni to the ground
Not from Shell and that little thing
With Ken Saro Wiwa
Not from the Unocals
And their Ivy League Pals
Shilling on Niteline
Promoting the new
Uzbeki, Afghani,
Osama bin Pipeline

And therefore,
To commit
To a reduction
In internal combustion?

To drink
And drink and drink
Burning gasoline
Until I feel fiery compassion
For the eternal sufferers of my
Infernal dedication
To internal combustion?
Infernal internal eternal

To admit
I‘m addicted
To my automobile
My own two little
Axles of Evil?

I keep finding myself
Back at the pump
With every finger
On the trigger

And I know in that moment that
They is me
I am them
Pushed and sucked and pumped
Through a dirty oil

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To sell
My car?

To hitchhike
But refuse to ride
In any SUV-8 commuter?
Range Rover, Range Rover
Send our black soldiers
Right over
Jesus Chrysler, Honda Krishna

I keep finding myself
Back at the outlet
Ready to plug something else in
Or check something else out

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To clothes
The Gap or at least
Stand in front of The Gap
With a picket?

To never
Set foot in
Wal-mart K-mart Ware-mart
Bi-mart Petsmart Star-mart or
Star-bucks again?
How ’bout Home Depot?

To stop
Buying clothes made of oil
Sewn by 8-year-olds in dark factories on
The other side of the planet
Sold in stores built on wetlands
Farmlands, once quiet lands
So-far-from-where-you-live lands
So hemmed in by asphalt big
Trucks broken glass and
Mufflers so underserved
By public transportation that
Driving there seems like the
Only reasonable way
To get there
But which are too cheap
To pass up?

Do I care enough
About Peace
To stop
Buying those clothes
To shop instead at thrift stores
To buy organic cotton hemp recycled
Clothes made by people I know who
Live on my street?

To acknowledge
That peace is, redwood trees standing
Peace is, worldwide family planning
Peace is, organic peach canning
Peace is, Alice Walker in the Oval Office
Sitting at the big desk
Peace is, live music in my kitchen
Peace is, your grandma riding her bike to
The bus to the farmers market
Peace is, a living wage for the
Columbian peasant who grew
My cup
Of Coffee
Peace is, the collective self-esteem of all

The world’s kids

And I‘ve got to wondering
If you gathered all the ten-year-olds in
China, America, Afganistan, Nigeria
And Mexico City
Into one giant circle
And gathered all their self-esteem
And put it in a laser beam
Of light
And shot it into the Night
Would it make it to the Lincoln Bedroom
Would it make it to the Moon?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To cutup
My Discover Card and
Send it back to the bankers
Who are using my money
To finance the erection

Of the 3 gorges dam
To displace a million people
Brown, voiceless people
To drown the great Yangtze
And 5,000 years of cultural history
Beneath the largest chunk of cement
Ever conceived by Stanford University

To distrust
Scientists with technological cures for
Organizational problems?
DNA cures for tomatoes that ripen
DDT cures for mosquitoes that bite
Nuclear cures for energy problems
Nuclear cures for war problems
Nuclear cures for nuclear waste problems
“This just in! Top scientists announced today
that they’ve found a cure for ignorance,”
All the newsmen blared.
If Einstein was so smart
Why didn’t he see we weren’t ready
For MC
To be squared?

To revolt
Every time some corporation
Commits inappropriation?
A word, a plant, an idea, a gene
A famous face, mental space, sacred place, or
Sixth grade class?
Get the hell out of my watershed
Before I copyright our whole language and
Trademark your ass

To boycott
Their labels
Never worship their stars?
Carry scissors and markers and
Stand in the street
Offering on-the-spot removal of
Swooshes® from feet?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To educate
In the Arts
Of resistance
By seeking out the real news
In Boycott Action News,
In Adbusters, WorldWatch, Mother Jones,
And Yes! Magazine?

To climb
Up and up and up the ranks
Of the Ruckus Society?

To recycle
But only as a last resort?
After reusing, retreading, reducing
Rejecting, and rejoicing in the replacing our
Throwaway culture?

To wear
A plate and cup
In a cloth bag on my shoulder?
Ready to catch
Spontaneous nourishment without notice
Without needing virgin
Old growth disposable tableware
And when the cashier say, “Paper, or Plastic?”
I‘ll say no
Thank you

To ask
questions about everything
I demonize, criticize, generalize, jeopardize, ostracize, canonize
Fantasize, memorize, advertise or supersize?
About everything I say I can’t live without?
About everything I stand for sit for work for play for
Pray for pay for
Live for?
About everything I eat, buy, do, make, facilitate,
Drive, consume, produce, wear, think,
Believe, value, throwaway and
Leave Behind?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To light myself on fire on Las Vegas Boulevard?

To walk
The talk?
To walk and walk and walk
To walk to the White House
To walk to Iraq
To walk to noplace in particular
Holding a sign above my head
That says
One Walker for Peace
Ignoring mind closures and no trespassing signs
Testosterone fueled egos and
The intentionally blind
Planting tiny peace seeds in
Every fertile, bare patch of
Human mind
That I find?

Do I care enough
About Peace
To ride my bike

To work?

-kipchoge, 2003

10 comments to “peace poem”

  1. [...] Ginger Ninjas – How Much? Do I care enough for peace to ride my bike to work? __________________ things change. authors and wizards are not always to be trusted. nobody can explain a dragon. [...]

  2. I saw Kip performing this Poem about ten years ago in an open mic might in cafe mecca. I thought it was the most awesome poem I had ever heard. Siitting here with my wife, now ten years later, one of the lines crossed my head about wearing my plate and cup and saying no to paper or plastic. It took a little bit to actually locate a written version of the poem but I am so glad I found it. I am in just as much awe now at most of the lyrics as when I was a 16 year old kid at an open mic night in N.C…. thank you kip choge for putting amazing lyrics and intention into this world…

  3. Wow, thanks for the sweet words, and for sharing, Chris. I’m always so grateful to hear that the poem has impacted someone. I know it has me!

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful Poem. I’ve seen you last year in Aix en Provence, France. This is where I live. But next year I’ll go live in America to find my band and do what you’ve done. Touch people deep inside their minds with music. To help them realize that we are owners of this beautiful earth and we have to respect it. God gave it to us and I want to make Him proud. If there is an other Pleasant Revolution Tour I want to be part of it, but if there is not, I’ll make my own Pleasant Revolution.
    God bless you all

  5. This timely [message]poem has to be the “battle cry”, or credo of anyone hip,savvy, tuned in, aware,conscious,active,live,and connected person[s].It has a resounding,rebounding,resonant quality that brings tears of joy to my eyes.

  6. Great poem, Kip! Thank you very much for sharing!
    I put it into Wordle and the result can be seen here:
    If, however, you’d like to rather delete this wordle, use this URL:
    Peace, Michael

  7. Kip, you take all of the world’s core problems and sum them up in one great poem. Thank you for having such an excellent ability to bring complex thoughts together. Your consciousness of the effect of consumerism on the health of the planet is inspiring. I hope to one day inspire others as you have inspired me.
    Virginia, U.S.

  8. Thanks so much, Casey. I hope someday to be able to live as close to my values as I poetecize!

  9. yes! thank you! tears of thanks from these parts…

  10. Just saw you perform this in Nevada City. WOW is about all I can say… even when we think we are living clean, being “green” – I read this poem and think we can do so much more. I CAN DO SO MUCH MORE. I can ask more questions. I can think several steps down the line about the effect any decision might have on others. Thank you for the inspiration. PS – I only saw the last two songs today… brought such joy to all of us listening. You are all so talented!

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