With fists, with words, with kindness
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David Grant lives in Malvern, Pennsylvania. His previous essays in The Sun include “Peace Nigger’s Long March” [Issue 46], “Learning to Walk” [Issue 124], and “Scavenger’s Run” [Issue 166].
On my rounds of the soup kitchens, I learned more than fine distinctions among bad foods. I learned the patience engendered by interminable waiting. I learned the deferential glance, a useful grace that gets one past the guards unchallenged.
In Guangzhou, China, I once saw two men row through the muddy waters of the Pearl River to pick up floating leaves of cabbage. Now, a few years later, that’s what I do: make the scavenger’s run.
Voluntary simplicity has gained popularity since the late Sixties. Of course the idea is at least as old as the first religions, but nowadays voluntary simplicity is not practiced for overtly religious reasons. A cynic might say that a sense of reparation for damages done is driving some to practice a new spirit of self-denial. It touches most strongly, after all, the descendants of the adventurous, progressive pioneers from Western Europe who invaded this country a few centuries ago. In any case, exploitation is a touchstone by which many of us gauge our use of toilet paper, gasoline, rubber, washing machines, nylon, coffee, newspaper and on and on.
For half a year now, summer to winter, I have been walking-in-place. I do not use any form of motorized transportation. I walk or bicycle everywhere.
Yangshuo is a riverside village set amidst all the ancient landscape paintings of China. Tourist groups disembark here after a half-day boat trip down the Lu River.
After quitting his job on public televison last year, David Grant decided to maintain a month of silence. This journal was wrillen during the last two weeks, when he travelled on foot, carrying a petition calling for military disarmament. His only companion was his goat, little Iowa, who carried provisions.