It has been months now and the protests are still ongoing across the country. If anything, the message seems to have been lost, and these gatherings are more and more about anti-law, destruction of property, and rebellion. They’ve even become a political issue.
I’ve recently gone days without watching the news. Why should I? What’s there to report that will lift me up? It’s day in and day out of agenda news reporting; the news networks in this country have lost their way. Everything is about ratings, and we’re fed a constant stream of images sowing division and distrust. I just assume not watch.
In my life of free time I sometimes entertain myself by imagining ‘what ifs.’ Ever allow yourself a moment of fantasy as a lotto winner? Kinda like that, except I like to imagine what it would be like to be in the White House as president or in congress as a congressman. It’s a mental exercise to pass the time, and I recently asked myself, “What would I do to calm and heal the country during this difficult era in American history? Would I do things differently than our elected officials?” The answer I come up with surprises me. I honestly don’t know what I could do that would work. I don’t think there’s an easy solution. At least, no short-term easy fix.
I think the first step would be to bring everyone back together and to somehow talk through the difficult issues. Then, act on these discussions and enact a framework based on them that allows everyone to move forward one day at a time. At least, that’s what I come up with. But how would you get people to unclench their fists in the first place?
Today’s guest writer has grappled with the same thoughts I have about the protests. He goes by the name of Underdog. On February 14, 2020, in Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #16, I posted Underdog’s first essay “The Jerry Springer Effect.” Today he returns writing about current events. If only everyone were to pause for a moment to consider his words. I’m happy to present his latest thoughts, aptly titled “This Land Is Your Land,” below. Maybe we can all learn something from them.
This Land Is Your Land
In these times when we’re confronting our attitudes about race, it’s sometimes hard to come up with positive images. I’m reminded, though, of a couple of cool moments from the past. When Barack Obama was in office, he had several concerts in the White House, one of which honored Sir Paul McCartney. Sir Paul sang ‘Michelle’ to the First Lady, which was very sweet. But then he invited Stevie Wonder on stage and they sang ‘Ebony & Ivory.’ It really took my breath away. Who would have thought when that came out that they’d be performing in the White House for the first black president?! It’s a great song to begin with and in that context, very moving.
Thinking of that reminds me of the PBS American Masters episode on Pete Seeger. He and his group, The Weavers, were once banned as “communist sympathizers.” But in his old age, they considered him harmless, they let him go to elementary schools and sing songs to the kids. There was a scene of him teaching the Woody Guthrie classic ‘This Land Is Your Land.’ It showed two little girls, one white, one black, pointing at each other as they sang, “This land is your land, this land is my land….” I thought to myself, This guy is still a radical — teaching kids a song about unity. It makes me think that people should be singing this song at all the protest rallies.
If you’re not familiar with it, or haven’t heard it for a while, I recommend downloading the version from the Pete Seeger album “Pete Remembers Woody.” It includes verses that “didn’t make it into the schoolbooks.” Check it out; it’s full of great patriotic American imagery–very inspirational.
*Underdog is on his 30th year of incarceration and no longer believes that the Ohio parole board cares about one’s personal change or rehabilitation. Despite this he still manages to move forward, except now he does so with a different view of the world.