One of my favorite songs from the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is “Tuesday’s Gone,” written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zandt. Here is the first stanza:
“Train roll on, on down the line,
Won’t you please take me far away?
Now I feel the wind blow outside my door,
Means I’m leaving my woman behind.
Tuesday’s gone with the wind.
My woman’s gone with the wind.”
This song is a quick lesson in context. If you listen to the song, you get the impression the singer is doing the leaving in the relationship. Yet, there is one simple line that reveals the context of why he is on that train.
“Tuesday, you see, she had to be free.”
The woman did the leaving. And, the man decided to leave town to escape the source of his blues.
Many things in life and in politics are heard or read without knowing the full context. Context matters to enlightened understanding. We are told that immigration is a huge problem and immigrants are taking American jobs. Immigration is a concern, but it is not as big a problem as portayed and the jobs being taken tend to be those which Americans don’t flock to. If immigration was stifled, certain industries would be in a heap of hurt.
We are told we must place tariffs on China, but why are we placing them on our friends? What we are not told, is there are mechanisms we could tap with the World Trade Organization with the support of our allies to gain concessions from China. Economists note that we are forgoing working together as a unified front. But, a key contextual item is collaboration is hard work, where the collective group gains.
Context matters. Songs, poems and stories can reveal context in a subtle matter. But, it is important for us to ascertain the context. Otherwise, we may solve the wrong problem in the wrong way.