Blackberries at the Community Park
I wrote the following Letter to the Editor about my favorite blackberry patch in the Southern Humboldt Community Park. It appeared in this week’s issue of The Independent and The Redwood Times. I’m sure it will not make me any more popular.
One thing I really love about August in SoHum is blackberries. I don’t mind the thorns. I don’t mind the scratches, or the purple stains on my hands and clothes. I just love the taste of fresh ripe blackberries, and I can’t get enough of them.
I know that Himalayan blackberries are an invasive species around here, but frankly, so am I, so we have that in common. I take inspiration from those thorny, fast-growing vines. I, like the noble blackberry, have taken root here. I can be a sweet and generous friend, but those who cross me, will find me a thorny and resilient adversary.
As you can imagine, I was not thrilled to see a new sign in front of my favorite blackberry patch announcing the future site of ball fields at the Community Park. I know that a lot of people like baseball and soccer, but sports fans can be a pretty obnoxious bunch. All over this country, sports fans have prevailed on local governments to force taxpayers to subsidize the conversion of prime real estate into grand arenas for the benefit of people who refuse to outgrow their insane obsession with stupid children’s games.
These sports complexes never turn out to benefit taxpayers. As a result, critical infrastructure, like roads, bridges and sewers, as well as social services for the needy get neglected, so that sports fans have someplace to drink overpriced beer, and a team of overpaid steroid abusers to hurl insults at, while contractors and developers quietly pocket huge sums of public money.
You might say of sports “It’s only a game.” but it’s worse than that. It’s a racket. It’s a diversion, and it’s a tool of oppression used by fascist governments everywhere. No, there’s nothing innocent or wholesome about organized sports at any level. Sports are a racket because they funnel public dollars into the pockets of private contractors and developers without providing any real benefit to the community. Sports are a diversion because they shift people’s focus away from real issues, struggles and movements and onto staged competitions of no significance whatsoever, and sports are a tool of fascist oppression because they separate young people by by age and gender and pit them against each other while adult coaches propagandize them and encourage them to control, dominate, and defeat their opponents.
Wilhelm Reich wrote eloquently about the role of organized sports in developing a fascist society.
Reich felt strongly, that to defeat global fascism, it was crucial to eliminate organized sports, because organized sports sow the seeds of military fascism.
I encourage everyone to read Reich’s book, The Mass Psychology of Fascism before they decide to support sports programs based on fond memories of their youth, or the infectiously cute image of boys in their Little League uniforms.
I know, from listening to Community Park board member Dennis Huber’s KMUD radio show, Monday Morning Magazine, that Dennis has fond memories of his days as a baseball player, and that he’s very keen to see the blackberry bushes at the park removed and replaced with a synthetic, AstroTurf covered ball field.
For every child who grows up with fond memories of organized sports, there is another child who has been traumatized, seriously injured or simply suffered through the ordeal, when they would have rather done something else. By artificially inflating the importance of sports, we encourage competition, gender bias and hierarchy in young people, and discourage creativity, cooperation and imaginative play.
I think it’s important to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. Even Dennis Huber gives lip-service to this idea when he talks about building a sustainable culture, and says, “let it begin here” at the end of each of his radio shows. Well, in order to build a sustainable culture, we have to actually change the way we do things. Isn’t it time this community stopped perpetuating fascist indoctrination through organized sports, and instead showed respect for the natural bounty, beauty and community benefit that wild blackberries provide.
Hundreds of local community members derive sustenance and succor from the delicious blackberries that grow wild at the Community Park. These blackberries also feed a variety of birds, from wild turkeys, to sparrows, finches and wrens, and provide habitat and food for mammals like deer, bears and bush bunnies. Young people love to pick blackberries, and picking blackberries teaches them a lot about the natural world and their relationship to it.
Organized sports, on the other hand, drain community resources, line the pockets of contractors and developers, and instill fascist attitudes and ideas in young people that, once established, become even harder to uproot than blackberry vines. Organized sports serve the interests of fascism and promote a culture of domination, oppression and corruption, which judging by the actions of the Community Park Board, remains alive and well here in So Hum.