Margaret Killjoy: How to Live Like the World is Ending

The world might be ending.

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There’s a commonly replicated piece of anarchist folk art that means a lot to me. I don’t know who drew it. It’s a drawing of a tree with a circle-A superimposed. The text of it reads “even if the world was to end tomorrow I would still plant a tree today.”

I grew up into anarchy around this piece of art. It was silkscreened as patches and posters and visible on the backs of hoodies and the walls of collective houses. It was graffitied through stencils and it was photocopied in the back of zines. It’s a paraphrasing of a quote misattributed to Martin Luther (the original protestant Martin Luther, not Martin Luther King, Jr., although plenty of people misattribute the quote to him as well). The original quote is something like “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” The earliest reference to it anyone can seem to find is from the German Confessing Church, a Christian movement within Nazi Germany that sought to challenge Nazi power. The quote was used to inspire hope, to inspire people to action.

That’s something I can get behind.

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