This week, we bring you the story of Wavy Gravy, the forever-on-the-move clown-spirited world citizen, who says "Anywhere I hang my heart is home, it is just the closet that keeps moving..."
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This week, we bring to you the story of Wavy Gravy (born Hugh Romney). A part of the hippie movement in his youth, someone who hung out with the likes of Bob Dylan, a poet and a stand up artist. Little did Wavy know while performing stand up comedy acts in New York's Gaslight Cafe that the magnitude of his fame and the extent of his outreach would positively affect the quality of the lives of millions of people.
Wavy Gravy lived on a mountain top commune near LA called the Hog Farm. After a time, the Hog Farm took to the road with its members living in a fleet of converted school buses and travelled the country protesting the Vietnam War.
During his early days of protesting and activism, Wavy suffered a serious spinal injury. It was during a lengthy recovery from resulting surgery that he first donned his now-trademark clown outfit.
"Twenty years ago I battled my way out of a severe post-surgical depression by serving as a clown at the local children's hospital.” It became apparent that the costume worked as a shield ("One day I had to go to a political demonstration at People's Park and I didn't have time to change my clothes or take my makeup off. I just shot down there and discovered that the police did not want to hit me anymore. Clowns are safe," he reminisces in his autobiography, Something Good for a Change). While a political Jester is born to pester, no cop wants to be seen clubbing a clown. So, he decided to adopt his get up permanently. It’s a typical burst of irrepressible positivity. When you are Wavy Gravy, you draw insight from even protest and possible persecution :)
In the late 70s, Dr. Larry Brilliant returned from India where his WHO team had succeeded in conquering smallpox - to this day, the only disease that has been completely eradicated. Dr Brilliant invited a conclave of bright people from the worlds of academia and counterculture to join together to figure out how best to help the world. Among them were Baba Ram Dass, and Wavy Gravy. Thus was born the Seva Foundation wherein the doctor, the clown and the guru began exploring the possibilities.
A Swiss-French doctor named Nicole Grasset explained to this trio that in developing countries, tens of millions of people live in complete darkness. Many of these people could see again if only there were a doctor to perform a simple 15-minute cataract surgery. The group realized the huge impact restoring eyesight would have on an individual, the family, and the whole community. "It seemed almost unfathomable that there are nearly 39 million people who are blind in the world, and 4 out of 5 could see again if they just had access to an eye doctor." The Seva people marshalled their forces, raised money among those willing to turn compassion into action, and teaming up with the likes of Dr V saw to it that ophthalmologists were trained in the procedure, and aided people in Malawi, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Guatemala and several other countries, as well as indigenous people in the United States and the people of Mexico.
"For $5 per eyeball" says Gravy, blindness in Nepal was practically wiped out.
Saint Misbehavin’ Wavy’s life is his message, serving as deeply needed inspiration that we can change the world and have fun doing it.
And as we were crafting this week's Maitri Tunes, we came across this lovely story placed right at the intersection of basic human needs and basic human deeds
Wouldn’t it be neat If the people that you meet had shoes upon their feet and something to eat?
And wouldn’t it be fine if all humankind had shelter.
Chorus (Repeat after each verse):
Basic Human Needs Basic Human Deeds Doin’ What Comes Naturally. Down in the Garden Where No One Is Apart Deep Down in the Garden The Garden of Your Heart.
Wouldn’t it be grand if we all lent a hand so each one could stand on a free piece of land?
And wouldn’t it be thrilling If folks stopped their killing And started in tilling the land?
Not just churches, not just steeples give me people helping people.
Help yourself and work out ‘til the stars begin to shout thank god for something to do.
What a great day it would be if everyone could see and no one was blind unnecessarily ‘cuz its hard yes, it’s hard to be blind (and disabled).
Wouldn’t it be fun if the shine down from the sun could power everyone? And uranium slept forever in the ground.
Wouldn’t it be daring if folks started sharing instead of comparing what each other was wearing?
And wouldn’t it be swell if people didn’t sell their mother Earth.