By Kate Clinton on August 14, 2011

When some guesthouses in our little resort town have no room left at the inn, instead of hanging a tasteful “No Vacancy” sign, they hang a “Sorry” sign. Sometimes the ‘sorry’ is in quotation marks.

Are they not really sorry? Are they being ironic? What is the translation for this hospitality term of art? “Sorry you thought you were going to step off the ferry, roll your dear little bag up to our door and get a room.” “Sorry you thought we would be keeping the light on for you. “Yeah right - you with your three night stay and parking needs.”

Perhaps I’m a little sensitive since being downgraded. And they can say ‘downgraded’ all they want but personally I feel degraded like some shoddy product. That S&P thing was like one big ‘he’s-just-not- that-into-you.’ And just when I thought I was done with shame.

We’re in a sorry state of affairs. There’s a big embossed ‘sorry’ sign hung out over the Congressional Inn. It’s in quotes. “Sorry you thought we were going to do anything about the environment, education, the poor, healthcare.” “Sorry you thought we weren’t in it for the money and power.” “Sorry you thought those Boehner tears were real.”

Now we who naively hoped that our country was on a different path two years ago, could just bow our heads and hang a ‘sorry’ sign off our neck and get back to Jersey Shore reruns. Or we could circle George Bush’s Crawford/Dallas spreads and demand he stand trial for war crimes. We could march on Bank of America. We could volunteer at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. We could work for the re-election of those NY Senators who stood for marriage equality, or the re- election of President Obama, even when he’s being too sorry.

All over the world, people are rising up, risking their lives, fighting back. What’s your plan to give the right-wing Christo- fascists something to cry about? What’s your plan to kick some sorry ass? Let’s make them sorry they were ever re-born.

If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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