I think I read in one of those polls that attempt to take the pulse of the nation that approximately fifty one percent of Americans would trade in some of their civil liberties in order to have more of a sense of national security. I thought to myself ‘You’ve got to be kidding”, and that the politics of fear have finally won out. We’d gladly let the present administration (who, by the way, are the ones that rail against “big government” when it comes to such trivial matters as education, healthcare and other social matters) listen in on phone calls and monitor e-mails without so much as a court order to do so. We watch from the sidelines where it’s safe and never jump into the game because in actually doing so, we would run the risk of injury. We tsk tsk at the Sunday morning news shows as we sip out double latte’s and wonder just what the hell is going on while that we’ve elected from both side of the fence dance around the issues like whores at a bachelor party.
I may be an idealist or have a utopian view of the world but given our current set of circumstances here in the States, our founding fathers would be embarrassed at all of us. They’d disown us in a heartbeat and look to start up shop someplace else.
It is a dance we do in silence
Far below this morning sun
You in your life, me in mine
We have begun
Here we stand and without speaking
Draw the water from the well
And stare beyond the plains
To where the mountains lie so still
When I was a little shit, I grew up hating just about everybody who wasn’t white, Catholic and heterosexual. I think I’ve got my dad to thank for that. As I recall the nights when he’d come from work and after dinner he’d pop open a beer and curse the world around him and it makes me cringe. The niggers should be left to rot in their own separate hell, the spics were nothing but a thieving bunch of bastards, the Jews controlled the purse strings, the hippies were nothing but a bunch of faggots that were ruining America and the faggots were just freaks of nature that preyed on little boys. To his credit, I don’t think he had anything against lesbians, if he did, he kept it to himself.
Somewhere along the line, I think I outgrew him. No, that’s not true, I know I did. I don’t know what caused it because often times we are products of our environment. It was probably just something simple. Something along the lines that I just didn’t want to go through life with a bitter taste in my mouth.
But it's a long way that I have come
Across the sand to find this peace
among your people in the sun
Where the families work the land
as they have always done
Oh it's so far the other way my country's gone
When did the worm turn? Was it 9/11 that pushed us over the edge? I can’t lay the blame squarely at anybody’s feet but I often wonder what we as a country would be like had that day never happened? There’s talk on the news that the neocons like to throw around. That the Democrats have a pre 9/11 view of the world and the Republicans have a post 9/11 view. Polls indicate that the citizens of America think that Republicans do a better job at protecting us from a terror attack than do the Democrats. To those people who feel that way, from both the left and the right, need I remind you that those attacks occurred under the Republicans watch? They were the ones in charge. When did we become our own worst enemies?
I don’t care who you are, nobody likes to be lied to. But then again, these days, even when folks are caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar, nobody tells a lie. When pressed on the matter, they just answer that it wasn’t a lie at all, they just should have been more “careful with the truth”. We’ve really matured as a nation when it comes to mincing words.
So where do we take it from here? I’m hoping for some plain honest talk from our elected officials and their appointees. Very few of the from either side of the aisle would ever confess to admitting a mistake and that leaves me twisting in the wind looking for something, anything to hold onto until this latest storm passes.
Across my home has grown the shadow
Of a cruel and senseless hand
Though in some strong hearts,
The love and truth remain
And it has taken me this distance
And a woman's smile to learn
That my heart remains among them
And to them I must return
One day, I hope to tell my kid about the good old days where we didn’t have things like the Patriot Act to confine us but instead, we just acted like patriots. Maybe at times that meant taking to the streets in protest and maybe at other times that meant waving the flag. Maybe it meant doing volunteer work for your local charity and maybe it meant praying with or for your neighbor during the hard times. To me, the idea of patriotism comes as a package and can’t be defined by narrow words written into some idea that was spawned out of fear.
But it's a long way that I have come
Across the sand to find you here
among these people in the sun
Where your children will be born
You'll watch them as they run
Oh it's so far the other way my life has gone
One day, maybe we’ll learn. I hope that the next generation is smarter than present one and the same goes for each succeeding one. Every now and then, things need to be re-examined to make sure that everything is still in good working order.
We owe that to ourselves and could sure use some introspection as we go about our business in the world..
If you look for me, Maria
You will find me in the shade
Wide awake or in a dream
It's hard to tell--
If you come to me, Maria
I will show you what I've made
It's a picture for our lady of the well
My picture is of an America that is far different than it is today. Like I said, it’ll be idealistic and utopian and will probably even stretch beyond our shores. I just hope I can find a canvas big enough to cover the entire landscape.
So I’ll tell my kid some of the same things that I’ve said here. At least it’s a start. Hell, she probably knows most of them already. I’d hate to tell her that’s it’s safer sitting on the sidelines and watching from afar.
Sometimes you just have to get in the game.
Lyrics to “Our Lady Of The Well” copyright Jackson Browne and released on the album For Everyman back in 1973.