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Obligation

Song Notes

A friend was preparing to lead a workshop on issues of catastrophic climate change at a gathering he knew I’d also be attending for the purpose of leading some group singing and to facilitate a grief ritual.  He asked if I would assist him in his presentation by preparing a song that would convey the essence of the themes of his workshop.

As I understood it, his main point was that our culture had lost its way.  Unlike many indigenous cultures and ancient peoples who saw humanity as an interdependent part of all of nature, held together in a healthy and functioning whole by a web of mutual respect, responsibility, even obligation, we have come to see ourselves as separate and apart, with even a “holy” mandate to subdue and make use of the rest of this world for our own purposes and enrichment.

Obligation has become almost a bad word in our society.  We want to be “free and clear,” have “no strings attached.”  This would be unintelligible nonsense to these ancient, indigenous cultures, and to our own deep time ancestors from whom we’re all descended.  From their perspective, all of nature was alive, even the stones, the rivers and oceans, the winds, the sun and moon, every creature and plant, all were sentient beings that could only flourish in a web of mutual indebtedness and reciprocity, everything alive by virtue of being “much obliged” to each other.

This song seeks to distill that old time understanding into a couple of phrases:

“Everything lives in obligation to everything that lives.”

and

“Every, everything in all creation, everything, everything is alive!”

Photo credit: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3016146

Lyrics

Part One:
Everything lives in obligation to everything that lives.

Everything lives in obligation to everything that lives.

Part Two:
Every, everything in all creation, everything, everything is alive!

Every, everything in all creation, everything, everything is alive!



Parts

Part One:  Baritone

Alto

Part Two:  Soprano/Alto

Soprano harmony

Tenor

Bass