Last night I went with a light-hearted song, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, by the Supremes and also Phil Collins. Tonight, I’m feeling more solemn, more … I’m looking at this nation, and others … Canada and the UK specifically … and I’m not liking what I see. A woman posted on Facebook that “We should be better than this … God wants us to be better than this”. Now, I’m not religious, but I thought her heart was at least in the right place and her comment in no way offended me. However, she was slammed in comments by people being rude, crass, and obnoxious toward her. And I started thinking … is this really who we are these days? Can we not just agree to disagree, can we no longer tolerate those whose views do not match our own? Whatever happened to “live and let live”?
I typically do not use the music posts to make a statement, though on occasion I do. Tonight is one such occasion. Les Crane’s Desiderata is a song that makes a statement … a simple, no-brainer sort of statement, but one that I think maybe we all should hear.
The song is based on a poem by Max Ehrmann that was written in the early 1920s, but not published until 1948, three years after his death. The poem was about the search for happiness in life. In the 1960s, the poem made its rounds as “anonymous” ancient wisdom – it was widely reprinted because most people assumed it was in the public domain. Crane read the poem on a street poster (which stated the words “Found in Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, dated 1692”) and decided to record it.
The song reached either #6 or #7 in the UK, depending on who you believe, #4 in Canada, and #8 in the U.S.
Desiderata. Desiderata. Desiderata.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender,
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others –
Even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons – they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career –
However humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is.
Many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially do not feign affection, neither be cynical about love.
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perenial as the grass.
Take kindly the council of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune,
But do not distress yourself with imaginings –
Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe.
No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
Keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.
Songwriters: Jonathan Douglas / Soren Rasted / M Ehrmanns
Desiderata lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc