Thursday, August 16, 2007

Singing Along

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

Last night Pete Seeger told that story with so much exuberance that I almost believed the war that was weighing so heavily on his mind when he first sang this song was the war without end our government is currently fighting. But Pete is 88 (he said his voice isn’t what it used to be); the war that inspired this song took place almost 40 years ago, back when Pete was plucking his banjo with relentless fury. Yet his smile, the way he lifts his head high when he belts out his now old-timey tunes, the way he waves his hand in deference when I nervously tell him I’ve find his music inspiring and I just wanted to say “Hi, Pete,” all that remains unchanged; that’s timeless and tireless Pete Seeger.

The old men behind us who have been listening to Pete all there lives still sing along earnestly. We all did, under the shadow of the United Nations Building in Dag Hammarskjöld’s Plaza. For a moment, for an evening, we were all true believers. If we could all live 88 years in the same way as Pete has, we would see the end of war.

Jennifer says social change takes time and struggle. 88 years ago who would have thought that the little black man I escorted around the museum tonight would make $34 per hour more than me cleaning up sheetrock that falls to the floor when they put in pipes; and 88 years before that everyone in America thought slavery would last forever. Maybe war is more of a game of egoism than a necessity for human survival. Maybe someday we won’t have to study war no more even here if we make a new sort of kingdom come. Maybe someday the money we spend on weapons of destruction will be spent on building civil society. Pete Seeger believes and I want to too.


Anonymous Sonya said...

I sat here for five minutes waiting for the font to pop up beside Pete there. Our little computer screen doesn't show much. Can't sleep...once again. I liked your post about Ohio, I would gladly trade places with Jenn. Though it is fun to be able to the threaten to squish to Josh since I am bigger than him. Oh well 12 more days.

1:16 AM  

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