Wednesday wanderings on a spring day

It is certainly a great day to wander about, but I think I will mow the grass first. Mowing has always been a chore I don’t mind, as you can see your progress as you go. Plus, freshly cut grass has a fresh smell. Since I have a battery powered mower, I don’t have to worry about inhaling gas fumes.

As I mow or wander, I can do some good thinking. I find myself thinking about past events and friends, since some of the current day issues are puzzling at best. I read a post (it may have been Jill or Joy’s) that some celebrity said “act like a grown up” used to be an admonition to misbehaving children. Now, we have too many grown-ups that act like spoiled toddlers. Of course, when some stand firmly behind one of the biggest acting toddlers as a former and possible future presidential candidate, it truly shows how low we have fallen.

We have too many that forget there is a responsibility that comes with our liberties. When my freedom to do things could be harmful to your freedoms, then we must cease or reconsider those actions. The opposite should be true. It reminds me of the caution to the newly launched Spiderman, when his grandfather said “with great power comes great responsibility.” Our freedoms to do things that are not permissible in some countries is a great power. Yet, we must honor it, nurture it, protect it for all.

Some have taken reaction to actual or perceived offenses to an awful degree. Just because someone disagrees with you, does not entitle you to hurt, threaten or kill the other person. Full stop. Just because you cannot tolerate failure, does not entitle you to turn over the chess board, throw a tantrum, claim cheating or instigate an attack on a branch of government. Full stop. Just because you are in a position of authority does not entitle you to ignore the people you represent. A good leader listens to others. A foolish one does not. Full stop.

There are many old lessons that are getting ignored these days. A key one is if someone has to tell you how great he or she is, then maybe we should look a little deeper as to why he or she is having to tell us such. When a colleague was complaining about being removed from marketing to a prospective client, unsuccessfully over several years, he said “I have known John for twenty years.” The thought running through my head was “And, he has known you.”

Whether you are religious or not, in many religious texts is some variation of Jesus’ golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. Let’s be responsible to each other. Let’s be civil in our discourse. Let’s protect their freedoms like they were our own. Let’s try not to be blowhards and listen to each other. Spiderman’s grandpa has a good lesson for us all.

Civil rights up close

The following is repeat post from three years ago. With the purposeful white washing of history to not inform students of the terrible acts committed in our country, we are masking greatly needed, but ugly lessons. These lessons are supposed to be ugly truths. That is why they are taught.

My wife and I visited the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, NC yesterday. Why Greensboro? It is built on the location of the first African-American sit-ins at the “whites only” Woolworth’s restaurant counter. The counter and chairs remain as they looked back in 1960 when they were sat in by the Greensboro Four: David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr., and Joseph McNeil.

The museum is excellent, but very sobering that such treatment could occur in a land that was supposedly free. And, as our Congress debates the rationale for reparations for slavery, what should be included in the debate is people suppressed, tortured, and/or killed during the Jim Crow period. Seeing and hearing the story of Emmett Till or the Birmingham church bombing which killed four young girls is breathtakingly sad and maddening.

I have written before about the horrific lynchings which often accompanied degradation of the poor soul’s body before and after his death. Death by hanging is a slow death and horrible things were done to the victim to make them feel worse as they died. What kind of evil can make men do that? Black men were lynched for looking at a white woman too long or at all. The great Billie Holiday captured the sadness in her song “Strange Fruit,” referencing strange fruit swinging in the trees.

The Jim Crow period rivals the horror of slavery for a key reason – these were acts committed on supposedly free people. But, their freedom was “contained” in a box of voter and economic suppression. So, Jim Crow was an orchestrated modus operandi to keep Black folks down. Whites who tried to help were also ostracized. And, what is also disturbing, too many ministers found bible verses and preached differentiation and segregation.

We must loudly condemn actions and words today by hate groups who say another group’s rights are subservient to theirs. Nazism, Apartheid, slavery and Jim Crow are part of the same demonization and hateful fabric. It is not supposed to work that way in our country. Our elected leaders are supposed to be our better angels. When they fail to lead in a manner closer to our ideals, we need to tell them so. Or, find better leaders.

American Utopia – an excellent musical by David Byrne

For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, the name David Byrne may be familiar. Yet, the name of his group, “Talking Heads” likely will ring a few more bells.

For the past few years, David Byrne’s “American Utopia” has been well received on Broadway. Fortunately, before COVID-19 shut down Broadway, Spike Lee filmed a special performance with Byrne and his multi-national troupe. It is a memorable show that is airing now on HBO. Below is link to a HBO trailer.

Dressed alike in gray suits, sans shoes and ties, Byrne and his eleven performers blend their talents in a choreographed marching band of various drum kits, guitars, a keyboard, and various and sundry instruments.

Only two of the songs appear to be popular Talking Heads’ songs – “Once in a lifetime” and “Burning down the house.” The latter sounds better than the released version with added percussion.

He also adds new music and that of others. Byrne explains the songs beforehand and includes an introduction of the band as they build the next song instrument by instrument.

Another highlight occurs when he says he asked permission from Janelle Monae to do her song as a plea for justice for a list of killed black people. This was filmed prior to the terrible deaths this year, but Lee adds a memorial at the end of the song.

Byrne makes observations throughout about our country. In one telling moment, he encourages people to vote, using the audience lights to indicate how many 20% represents that vote in local elections. He also noted in the 2016 election only 57% of Americans voted. To me, this indicates the voting problem in America – it is not fraud, it is not enough people are voting.

Yet, the highlight is the wonderful music coming from the stage produced by many different nationalities, races and ethnicities. That is what America is all about.

https://www.hbo.com/specials/american-utopia

Happy Independence Day Early

Best wishes all on a festive, but important anniversary in our US history. A few reminders to all, including my family, friends, and me.

– Don’t drink and drive – it is a bad idea anyway, but many police officers will be doing road checks looking for overly imbibed drivers.

– Along these same lines, remember alcohol, testosterone, and fireworks do not mix very well, so please leave the lighting to those who are more coherent.

– Stay hydrated if outside. So easy to forget, so easy to fix.

– Drive safely as many of us will be on the road. If you can read my bumper stickers, you are too close, unless we are at a traffic stop. And, the trucker sticker is true – if you can’t see his/ her mirrors, he/ she cannot see you.

– Remember the sunscreen song that began and ended its many lessons with advice to lather up when you go out – this is particularly true if drinking is involved, as a drunk lobster of a person is not at his/ her best (and will be in pain tomorrow).

– Keep an adult or older teen eye on kids around water. It only takes a few seconds. If you have folks to your pool, lake, river, etc. for a swim, make sure all can as hosts can get caught up in the event.

– Remember to hug loved ones close when you leave. It only takes a few seconds and means so much to both hugger/ huggee.

Finally, let’s remember the true meaning of July 4. It celebrates our freedoms. So, remember your freedoms are as important, as my freedoms. Not more or less. That is what we fought for and our history has been one of making sure that is true for all. Happy 4th of July!!!

 

 

A Simple Song of Freedom – Bobby Darin’s Most Endearing Legacy

Bobby Darin is more known for songs like “Beyond the Sea” which was the title of the movie starring Kevin Spacey as Darin, “Mack the Knife” and “Splish Splash.” The latter song actually was out of character from most of his songs as he was more of a Frank Sinatra ballad type singer. Yet, to me the song that resonates over time is the one he wrote later in his career and sang during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights push in the 1960’s, “A Simple Song of Freedom.” Here are the lyrics.
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war
Hey there, Mister Black Man, can you hear me?
I don’t want your diamonds or your game
I just want to be someone known to you as me
And I will bet my life you want the same
So come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war
Seven hundred million are you listening?
Most of what you read is made of lies
But speaking one to one, ain’t it everybody’s sun
To wake to in the morning when we rise?
So come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung, before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
Brother Solzhenitsyn are you busy?
If not won’t you drop this friend a line?
Tell me if the man who is plowing up your land
Has got the war machine upon his mind
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
Now no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle
Like presidents, prime ministers and kings
So let us build them shelves
Where they can fight among themselves
And leave the people be who like to sing
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
I say, let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war

Freedom
Freedom
Freedom

To me, this song has two meanings. One is we are all the same and wake up under the same sun. The other is war is about leaders talking and sending young men off to die. I like the line about building shelves for the leaders to fight upon and leave us alone. As we scroll forward to 2014, things do not change.

We, the people, see leaders talk about everything but what is important. Around the world, we see religion often used as a weapon to divide and rule. We see poverty, because of war and corruption where leaders make themselves rich and others suffer. We see women treated as possessions far too many times. We will not gain a wider peace until women are treated better and, at least closer to equals, if not equal around the globe. Call out injustices when you see it. That is our only hope.

Please join with me to listen to a version of Darin’s simple song of freedom.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=bobby+darin+simple+song+of+freedom+lyrics&FORM=VIRE6#view=detail&mid=FAC643BD4D82B22509B8FAC643BD4D82B22509B8

 

My heart is out to our Boston friends and visitors

The tragic events of today in Boston have led me to write some thoughts down which I am sure others are doing as well. My wife’s brother was supposed to run today, qualifying for the Boston Marathon. For marathon runners, the Boston Marathon is like one of the Kentucky Derby races, as it is difficult to get into. He made the grade, but had a business opportunity arise that negated his plans. The personal side of this is my wife would have gone with their sister to pull for him near the finish line. And, that is precisely where the first two bombs went off.

This is a horrible tragedy that we are still trying to figure out what happened. I think most everyone detests the loss of innocent life just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only ones who do not are those less than humane perpetrators of this and other crimes against humanity. I personally find the actions of terrorists (big or small) to be detestable and should not be condoned or supported by any regime. If your regime supports terrorism, then your regime is not worthy of recognition. If your hate group acts on its hate, then you are a group of criminals. If you are trying to make a statement, then you did. You made the statement that you should be arrested and tried for your heinous acts. I hope they find the perpetrators and not give them any publicity. They should just have a brief press release saying we got the bastards.

However, that is for the future. For the now, let’s say a prayer for the families of the loved ones lost. Let’s say a prayer for those injured in the explosion and hope they can survive their wounds. Let’s say a prayer for those wonderful police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners who have done and will do their best to save lives. Let’s say a prayer for the friends and family to be strong and soothe their loved ones in pain, from loss and their injuries. If you are not religious, please think good thoughts for those in need akin to the above.

The day was supposed to be a day of celebration in Boston. It still can be a memorable Patriots Day for better reasons than this tragedy. So, let’s remember our fellow patriots in Boston and say we are with you. You led us down a path of revolution that gained us our freedom in America. We are free to worship any religion. We are free to speak our mind. We are free to tell a Congressperson we disagree with his or her views. We are free to live where we want and try to make a decent living for our families. We are free to form groups that believe in causes, even if we do not agree with them. We are free to do many things in our great country, provided we do not harm others.

To our friends and visitors in Boston. We are free because of what you started for all of us. I am saddened that your day has been filled with tragedy. I am saddened that people lost their lives and are harmed. We will be sad with you and be beside you in your time of need. May God grant you peace and comfort.