For Three Peoples, for All Peoples, I Pray

Most mornings part of my prayer is for other people; I pray for family, for friends, for those who have passed on.

And then I pray for people who suffer illness, and are effected by war and other armed conflict; there’s plenty of suffering in the world to go around.

The following three groups come to mind most days. In no particular order I think about these people; though you might be able to rank by how many displaced, how many mamed, how many murdered.

Pray for them. Pray for us all.

Rohingya are a stateless, persecuted Ethnic minority in Myanmar. Hundred of thousands have been forced to flee ethnic cleansing, to refugee camps in Bangladesh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya_people?wprov=sfti1

Uyghurs are a ethnic group that are persecuted in western China. Tens of thousands have been forced into re-education camps by the Chinese government.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghurs?wprov=sfti1

Yazidis are a ethnic/religious minority in the general area thought of “Kurdistan”: a blended region of Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. They were particularly targeted by The Islamic State.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazidis?wprov=sfti1

"40"

When I heard this song for the first time more than thirty years ago, I was just getting into U2’s music. It hadn’t really spoken to me up until that time (mid-80’s) — I’d been more rooted in heavy metal, heavier rock music.

And then this one came along. I was hooked pretty quick. The simple riff and especially the words, they grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The lyrics are modified slightly, but pretty well directly from Psalm 40. My faith had been well established around this same time, as I struggled through adolescence.

To this day, this very minute, this song bouyes me, lifts me up, urges me to persevere, and find strength in faith.

Yes sir, it sure does. This is…

“40”

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long…how long…how long…
How long…to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long…how long…how long…
How long…to sing this song

Writer(s): Clayton Adam, Mullen Laurence, Evans David, Hewson Paul David

"Let Freedom Ring…"

Image from Google’s Home Page on MLK Day, 2020

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Tens of thousands gathered to participate in expressions of dissatisfaction with a lack of racial inequality in society here in the United States.

Fifty-seven years later, inequality still exists. In fact, the ugly and vile voice of racism seems louder to me now in this country than I’ve heard it in the past. King’s words ring true today as they did more than a half century ago. King’s call to action is as important and critical to our nation and our democracy’s well-being as it was then too.

Let’s remember King, and just as important, let’s remember the importance of his vision for America.

His words still ring true; his critique no less true today in many ways.

Here is the full text to the “I Have A Dream” speech:

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” “

MLK, Washington D.C., 28 August, 1963

Lyrics Post: “Territories” by RUSH

A bonus second lyrics post today, another from RUSH, another tribute to Drummer and Lyricist, Neil Peart, who passed away last week.

These lyrics are from the sam period, same album that “The Big Money” was recorded. The words spoke to me in a special way at the time, when my sense of local and global was still forming. And the words still speak to me today.

Territories”

I see the Middle Kingdom between Heaven and Earth
Like the Chinese call the country of their birth
We all figure that our homes are set above
Other people than the ones we know and love
In every place with a name
They play the same territorial game
Hiding behind the lines
Sending up warning signs

The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don’t feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can’t really feel
What international means
In different circles, we keep holding our ground
Indifferent circles, we keep spinning round and round

We see so many tribes overrun and undermined
While their invaders dream of lands they’ve left behind
Better people… better food… and better beer…
Why move around the world when Eden was so near?
The bosses get talking so tough
And if that wasn’t evil enough
We get the drunken and passionate pride
Of the citizens along for the ride

They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent
Or the color of your shirt
Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled

“The Birth of the New Negro”

Who was this man?  What was his time?  I didn’t know.

I didn’t know until I listed to this particular Code Switch podcast recently.  I didn’t even finish it.  But I knew I had to share it, capture it, finish it later. And then listen again.  And again.

Three voices tell the story:  the first two, regulars hosting Code Switch:  SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, and GENE DEMBY.  And then a special guest to provide the lead narrative, BILAL QURESHI.

So much to learn!

one.npr.org/i/790381948:790766364

Neil Peart, The Professor, RIP

They called him “The Professor” because he read all the time, because he was learned, because he was a master.

I heard the news yesterday that Neil Peart died on 7 January. SPEECHLESS. The legendary drummer and lyricist of the Canadian rock band RUSH was 67.

While I’m certainly saddened by the news, I’m also eternally grateful for the mountain of music and canon of amazing lyrics he left behind.

One of my good buddies sent me this text that sums it up beautifully:

“RIP Neil Peart
Bummed & shed a tear today on many levels
Masterful musician, lyricist, thinker, adventurer, big time quality dude, wacky Canadian, and so much more.
We need people like him to be on this planet as long as possible.
Kills me that he had to battle an insidious cancer & he couldn’t go out on his terms or terms befitting him.
Glad I was blessed to be able to enjoy Rush’s musical experiences with family & friends & be moved by his amazing talents.

One of the best, ever!”

Amen AMEN, that’s about all I could add. I agree with all of that.

RUSH music changed my life for the better. It still does.

I hope I see you on the other side, Neil.

God Bless.

And this collection of images from social media. And the statement from his bandmates at the end.