My body is a machine/
Built to force so much compassion and love and kindness into the world/that human life has no choice but to thrive and flourish.
[Poem by Mark Baumer-Day 28/Second Crossing of America]
Mark wrote this and recited it on his video from Day 28, the day following the Trump victory. He was in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. On both sides of the road were farms and fields where peas had been harvested earlier in the fall. Mark is shrouded in his green rain poncho, as the day was rainy and probably cold.
On a rainy day in November, 63 days before he was to be killed, Mark speaks about human-induced climate change, how it’s causing typhoons and droughts. He indicts the American way of life, talks about ways that we can mitigate our personal contribution to global warming and climate change. He mentions that “one of the easiest things you can do to help the environment is stop eating animal products…you can do that today…you could have a huge impact if you just stopped eating meat.”
There are some unbelievably hateful people online cheering Mark’s death—like the guy in this video. The things that Mark is waxing on about in his video are the kinds of things that make reactionaries on the right hate him.
One reason I went plant-based is because I wanted to diminish my impact on the planet. Mark won me over by his walk (much more than his talk, which is convincing) and the kind compassionate way he lived his life and loved us, his parents.
People in my life who were once prominent, originally lashed out at me during the fall when they found out I’d become a vegan. During this fiery trial, they’re nowhere to be found. Who knew that carrots and broccoli were ideological wedges?
But I’m going to try to remember your message about love, Mark. It’s hard. I don’t usually roll as compassionately as you did. I’m trying, though. I hope I can keep drawing on that deep reservoir of strength that propelled you during your walk, and the model you offered all of us on how to treat others. You’ve left it behind as a gift.
As you were walking in the dark and probably weary from a long day walking in the rain and cold, you told me to have fun and to hang out with good people. Being kind and compassionate to them. You then said that if you can’t love humans, then get a dog and learn to love that dog. I’m sure you could learn to love a cat, too.
Go ahead and mock him, you haters. You offer nothing to any of us that’s transformational. We are drowning in a glut of hate, but many just keep on hating. Hate is a fucking cottage industry for some—they profit from teaching others to pull away from their fellow humans (even justifying killing in their name), fanning the flames of division through hate-mongering.
Mark found a way to be alive every single day (see Day 29), and to love, rather than hate. That’s truly one of many qualities that made him amazing and one-of-a-kind.
Many have been touched by reading Mark’s story. Some didn’t know of his walk and his cause until after his death.
If Mark’s life still resonates with you, consider making a contribution to the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund as a way of keeping Mark’s spirit alive. Your gift will help cultivate the traits that informed Mark’s philosophy of life—love, kindness, and working towards building a better world. We are currently in conversation with a group in Providence and hope to be supporting some of their spring and summer efforts in the community.
Mark finished a book just prior to leaving on what would be his final walk across America. I am a Road chronicles Mark’s “First Crossing” of America, back in 2010, narrated by him in his imitable style.