January 30, 2017

Are we/Am I doing enough?

Like many other people, I've been to a few protests recently.  A Maryland Rally to Save Healthcare. The Women's March on Washington. An impromptu No DAPL rally near the White House one night last week after work. And yesterday, a No Muslim Ban/No Wall rally that turned into a march. It feels good to be doing something in the face of all the frightening changes that've so quickly taken place in this country.  But I keep wondering if it's enough.

There were two other events I considered going to yesterday, instead of or in addition to the No Ban/No Wall rally-- One was a rally earlier in the day to protest Betsy DeVos' nomination for Education Secretary, the other a protest of the Muslim Ban at BWI airport in the evening.  If I'd gotten myself out of the house early enough, I could've easily gone to the DeVos rally near the Capitol and then headed to the White House for the No Ban/No Wall protest. And I could've probably made it up to the airport near Baltimore afterward for that one. But I chose one of the three. Was it enough?

I keep thinking of a post I saw at the Facebook page for the Betsy DeVos protest.  Someone had said that they couldn't go because they had to take their kids to a soccer game, but they'd be there in spirit.  This is what I worry about--  The Tea Party faction brought us to this point because of the passionate intensity of their beliefs.  Yet we, the "liberal" opposition, pick and choose between protests, or support from afar because we have soccer games to go to.  I can easily imagine Tea Party moms skipping their kids' soccer games in a heartbeat and dragging those kids to anti-abortion protests instead.  Do we believe passionately enough to do the same? 

And the causes we're protesting represent real people who've been, or soon could be, making sacrifices and even suffering because of these issues.  Do we feel strongly enough for them to suffer ourselves?

I don't say this to shame anyone who's skipped a protest because of work or whatever. I'm struggling with it myself. This is all so new, it's been confusing and a bit overwhelming to figure out how best to respond, how to take action and feel that it'll be effective.  I keep telling myself I'm taking baby steps.  But I do wonder at what point we're all going to have to
begin making real sacrifices, giving up those soccer games or taking time off from work, putting in the hours and becoming tired and worn out, in order to protect what we feel is right.   



Images from the Women's March on Washingon here.

And the No Ban/No Wall rally-march here.

January 28, 2017

Spitting out these 300 M.P.H. Outpour Blues

I love the way Jack White talks about the music that's meaningful to him.  In a panel discussion about the Rise and Fall of Paramount Records back in 2013, surrounded by erudite, scholarly types and people who write about music for a living, his descriptions of the songs and the impact they had on him was down-to-earth and easily relateable.  In that snippet above, what he says about the song Mama's Angel Child especially resonated with me-- That part about "he's speaking for me", that's one of the things that definitely draws us to music. Those songs that speak for us, the ones that make us feel as if the song-writer pulled our own thoughts and feelings out of us and set them to a melody, are intensely powerful.

Jack's wish that we could all have the sort of moment he had with Mama's Angel Child was fulfilled for me with one of his own songs, one that's come up at this blog a couple times over the last few years-- 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues. It's the song that first grabbed me and shook me and told me I had to get into his music. If you held a gun to my head and forced me to name my favorite White Stripes song, this one would be it. To my ears, it represents everything about him as a song-writer-- The cleverness of the word-play, the deceptive simplicity of what he's expressing, the dramatic shifts in dynamic.  It's soft, it's tempestuous, it's acoustic, it's electric, it's acerbic and thoughtful, wry and regretful.  And it speaks for me in a way that is both reassuring and unsettling.

"I'm getting hard on myself, sitting in my easy chair..."

So many of us go through that dance with self-loathing angst--  "I'm not this enough, I'm not that enough, I'm not good enough, I'm not doing enough, why did I do that?, why did I say that?, why didn't I say that?, I really screwed up, I'm really screwed up...."  And yet our lives, to anyone looking in from the outside, are perfectly fine. We have food, shelter, family, friends.  Money may or may not be a little tight, but we can pay our bills, buy some records, and go see a movie once in a while. And yet we suffer.  We get hard on ourselves sitting in our easy chairs.  Why?

"Safe to say somebody out there's got a problem with almost everything you do..."

So much wisdom, and again so simple. But one of the hardest lessons for some of us to learn, something we get hung up on over and over again and that leads us right back to that easy chair, getting hard on ourselves. For what?

"Well, sooner or later, the ground's gonna be holdin' all of my ashes, too..."

And yet, there's a defiance of all those troubles at the end, the strength to stand up to those who have a problem with everything we do and, just as hard, to stand up to our own selves.  That final twist, that's the reassurance this song gives us--  

"One thing's for sure, in that graveyard... I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes."

If that's not the blues, I don't know what the hell is.