Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Land is Your Land

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springstein performed Woody Guthrie's song "This Land is Your Land" at yesterday's concert for Obama. Eighty-nine year old Seeger, had the crowd of a half million people sing along. Ever the activist, he had the crowd sing along to verses that were previously removed from the song because they demanded rights for citizens and workers. This may well be the first time that many have heard all of the original verses to the song as they were not included in the version most of us were taught as school children.

Pete Seeger hoboed with Guthrie, and at one time was blacklisted, questioned by Congress in the 1950's for subversive activities and banned from television. The fact that Obama's inaugural committee brought Pete Seeger to the stage at this time in history made me cry for joy. I have to believe that finally, at last, perhaps, we have a president who gets it.

Henry Steelecommager said in Freedom Loyalty and Dissent 1966, "Our tradition is one of protest and revolt, and it is stultifying to celebrate the rebels of the past while we silence the rebels of the present."

Obama is celebrating the rebels of the past throughout his inauguration, it is up to us now to keep watch, to make certain that the activists and citizens of the present are no longer silenced. It is up to us to make certain that the new administration brings about the positive change our country needs.

I am not so naive that I believe that Obama will make us all wealthier and end unemployment, the recession and the war simultaneously. What I do believe is that although it may not be possible to improve the conditions of the people immediately, at the very least Obama can lead our government toward equal justice, liberty, and fairness, and provide more transparency in government,and a lot more truth telling. George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." The time for revolutionary action is now.

As a people we are strong enough to handle the truth. President Kennedy once stated, "We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies,and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

If on our watch we do not see the positive change we want,we must all remember that, " In a democracy dissent is an act of faith" (Fullbright). Not only is it an act of faith but it is also our responsibility.

,This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me
The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!
In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.
Chorus (2x)

1 comment:

susie said...

I just sang along again.
The end of an incredible day!
The best of times...
I'm hopeful that we the people are now included in the system and that we have a voice and will be heard.
Thanks friend! :-)
"this land is your land, this land is my land"