We celebrated Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts earlier this month.
As you probably know, Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles fought nearby in Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy (now part of Arlington) at the start of the American Revolutionary War between colonists and British forces.
All of these events happened quite near where I live — in fact, British soldiers marched past the end of my street (about three houses away) en route to these battles.
And there are historical markers up and down Massachusetts Avenue which document the skirmishes — and often the deaths — which unfolded two hundred and forty eight years ago in my neighborhood.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
I wrote today’s song, “Democracy Is Under Attack,” a couple of years ago after participating in a big march in Boston.
I was inspired by some of the chants I heard during the course of the day.
I am guessing that most readers of my blog are well aware of the astounding political events unfolding these days in the USA.
I had compiled a long list of them to include in this blog post, but today I realize that I do not need to burden or discourage readers in this manner.
I can let my song speak for itself.
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
The great lyricist Yip Harburg — who co-wrote classic songs such as “It’s Only A Paper Moon,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? — once said the following:
“Words make you think thoughts. Music makes you feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought.”
I love this idea.
He continues: “Songs have been the not-so-secret weapon behind every fight for freedom, every struggle against injustice and bigotry.”
“(Think of) ‘The Marseillaise’ (or) ‘The Battle Hymn Of The Republic’ or ‘We Shall Overcome’ and many more.”
“Songs are the pulse of a nation’s heart — a fever chart of its health.”
“Are we at peace? Are we in trouble? Are we floundering?”
“Do we feel beautiful? Do we feel ugly?”
“Listen to our songs.”
Thank you, Yip!
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
When I am feeling overwhelmed by the news, I often turn to music for comfort, inspiration and balance.
I also turn to two writers: Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell.
Each of them shares a very thoughtful — and free — essay on an almost-daily basis which reflects upon what is happening in the USA as well as other parts of planet earth.
I am astounded at how many articles each of them is able to read and then synthesize into a cohesive and uplifting essay.
If you are curious, you can sign up for Heather’s newsletter by clicking here.
And you can sign up for Robert’s newsletter by clicking here.
As I mentioned above, one doesn’t need to pay to read their work, but they DO accept financial contributions to support their work if one has the means to do that.
Here’s an example of Ms. Richardson’s writing from 3/23/23:
“In a democracy, the way parties are supposed to win elections is by making a better case for being in power than their opponents do. Losing elections is supposed to make leaders think deeply about how better to appeal to voters.”
“That system keeps all parties constantly honing their policies, thinking through problems, benefiting their constituents.”
“Our election laws are designed to try to hold the playing field level, and a party should want to keep the system fair in order to keep itself healthy.”
“But if a party is willing to cheat to win, it no longer has to work on policies that appeal to voters; it can simply game the system to dismantle the competition on which democracy depends and instead create a one-party state.”
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
Here are some thoughts from Mr. Hubbell’s post on 4/17/23:
“Americans are fed up.”
“A recent survey by the Navigator Group finds a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who believe gun violence is a top national priority. For tragic reasons, concern over guns is now the third-ranking priority among Americans—behind only inflation and jobs.”
“Strong majorities of Democrats and Independents believe that gun laws should be strengthened — as do 38% of Republicans.”
“The numbers are turning against Republicans on the gun issue. Combined with reproductive liberty, the climate crisis, and attacks on LGBTQ rights, MAGA extremists have picked the wrong side of nearly every major social and political issue challenging America. Although they can control legislation through gerrymandered legislatures, that is a losing game over time.”
“Democrats can win at the statewide and national level—where they can block G.O.P. lawlessness and enact gun reform.”
“We have a path forward — through grass-roots politics. It will be long and arduous, but we have a path forward. Let’s take it.”
Their essays are a welcome antidote to the firehose of information —and seemingly endless speculation — blasted at us by our media
Yet another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
So what to do?
I keep singing — with my Music Together families, with my friends Carole and Molly, with the residents of retirement communities and assisted living facilities, while I am washing dishes at home, and while I walk around my neighborhood.
And I keep giving tiny amounts of money to politicians — like the two young representatives in Tennessee who were recently kicked out and then reinstated — as well as organizations devoted to preserving/expanding our ability to vote.
And I keep reading my fellow bloggers posts.
And every now and then I write one myself.
I will end with a couple of quotations.
One is by President Joseph R. Biden (and/or one of his speechwriters):
“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.”
The other is by Mahatma Gandhi:
“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”
Thank you to the photographers at Pixabay for the images in this post.
Thank you to Doug Hammer for his tremendous piano playing and expert engineering skills.
Thank you to anyone and everyone who sings-along — with this blog post, in my Music Together classes, at my gigs, while listening on a streaming platform, etc.
Thank you to Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell for your ongoing analysis and insights.
And thank you to YOU for reading and listening to this blog post.
If you are curious to hear more music, you can also find me singing — with Doug Hammer playing his Schimmel grand piano — on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, YouTube and other streaming platforms.
And you can stream “Democracy Is Under Attack” by clicking here.
Any song you “like” or “heart” or add to a playlist will improve the algorithmic activity of our music there!
One more deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
Hi. As you know, I share your concerns. I also read Heather and Hubbell. In fact, my daily list is getting unwieldy, with Joyce Vance, Marc Elias’s Democracy Docket, and Simon Rosenberg’s Hopium Chronicles as well. (Rosenberg is the guy who insisted there would be no red wave despite receiving ridicule.)
We clearly cannot take our democracy for granted—ever. It’s tough out there, and active citizens who know how high the stakes are made all the difference in 2022–and will do so again in 2024 and beyond. Deep breath in… deep breath out! So grateful for your singing, writing, and doing this important work. And cheers.
I keep reminding myself that I am part of a web of folks who are re-awakening to the importance of active participation in our political process — and that I don’t have to solve everything myself. I just need to keep doing what I can in my own life to nudge us back towards a new place of balance and respect. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. ps: i started giving a little bit of money each month to the folks at Democracy Docket, but I didn’t know that Mr. Elias and his staff write a daily newsletter. I am also a big fan of Mr. Rosenberg and will check out his Hopium Chronicles..
I have the same problem, Will: I always feel it’s my responsibility to save democracy. But as Joyce Vance writes at the close of each issue of her newsletter: “We’re in this together.”
Yes. None of us could possibly accomplish everything that needs to be done. But each of us can keep taking small steps…which add up to something larger than ourselves. We ARE in this together!
Hi Will! I love that Mahatma Gandhi quote. It’s so easy to feel discouraged these days. We have to remind ourselves of the power of good over evil, and hope and pray that we can overcome the anti-democratic forces of evil in our world.
Sadly, what I call “American-style” (no offense) politics is becoming the norm here in Canada, too. The real issues are being overpowered by a small percentage of vocal right-leaning radicals whose only goal is to further their self-interest. I dread our next federal election. It will be ugly.
Now…to coin a phrase you use often…deep breath in, deep breath out. Have a wonderful Sunday!
Yes. The way our political discourse has deteriorated in the USA often seems to me to be a sad case of “monkey see, monkey do” with a few influential leaders giving permission — via their behavior and remarks — to many, many others who follow their lead. I have also come to understand how politics has become a path to wealth (for themselves, their families, their allies, their already-wealthy supporters, etc.) rather than a path of service… Let’s all keep doing what we can each day — one blog post, one song, one donation, one act of kindness, one unselfish choice at a time! Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
Unfortunately, those in political power are bought by powerful, psychopathic ruling interests and will always divide us on issues, when they fabricate most of it to keep us attacking each other. It will never end. Sorry to be doom and gloom but until people are not swayed by what they are told, and begin to work with what’s in front of them, i.e. their inner demons and personal relationships, it will always be ugly. I worked as a counselor for over ten years and it was like pulling teeth to get people to focus on the inner instead of the outer. People commit gun violence because of familial tensions that overflow into the public sphere and they usually feel these things when ostracized at school, work, etc. Still this is nothing compared to domestic violence and abuse in the home, it’s just that our media doesn’t focus on it. John Taylor Gatto discussed the problem with school when he was alive but no one listened. I wish there wasn’t a gun on the whole of the earth but violence among the human race will only escalate no matter what, especially as the ruling elite continue to bear down upon us through poor leadership.
Yes. I agree with what you write. I often wonder about/marvel at how people’s individual wounds can be acted out on entire families, offices, companies, states, countries, planets. Our former president is an extreme example of unexamined/unhealed woundedness wreaking havoc on those around him — and all of the rest of us here on earth! I also put folks like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg into this category of very powerful people who seem to be driven by personal wounds/demons to make some very unwise choices which then affect huge numbers of people/economies/ecosystems/etc. Let us all keep doing what we can in our own lives to cultivate kindness, patience, generosity, humility, playfulness, collaboration, insight, etc.
Your song speaks the truth. Having lived through the turmoil of the 60s and 70s I can say that this is worse. In fact it’s much worse because these days many people believe the lies they hear without doing any fact checking at all.
Ignorance is the force behind it but when someone hears the truth and rejects it in favor of lies, how do you get through to them?
If nothing else, this should show us all the value of a good education.
Personally, I believe that good will always overcome evil no matter how dark the days might seem.
Thanks for the song and the post; I enjoyed them.
You are very welcome. And thank YOU for taking time to read and listen! It DOES seem like we are at a VERY important series of moments in our country’s history right now. I find myself easily overwhelmed by discouraging, mean-spirited news… and then remind myself that I just need to keep doing what I can — one modest donation, one personalized postcard to a prospective voter in a swing state, one smile exchanged with a passing stranger on the bike path at a time. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
I’ve found that when I just take small bites of life and welcome each moment as it comes life becomes more joy than burden.
Thank you for your song and for the quote. “Words make you think thoughts. Music makes you feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought.” It’s funny, but we were just talking about this concept at dinner just using different words.
I’ve been happily re-reading a Yip Harburg biography and re-acquainting myself with the details of his creative, passionate life.
I hope you have a Yip Harburg show in the can–or in the works.
Joe and i put together an hour of songs for which he wrote lyrics a few years ago. But I think I may need to edit it and possibly change one or two of my song choices after re-reading his biography….
A good song. I didn’t know Patriot’s Day celebrated specific events. How interesting to live so close to history.
Although US history is quite recent compared with other countries like the UK, I am glad to be reminded (by various markers along Massachusetts Avenue) of the heroic actions of folks who came before me…