If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it – a much needed reprise

Keith’s words today are so true, so important, they should be heard by every person in this country, young and old alike. Please take a few minutes to read his words, to contemplate them in this period when some are trying to literally bury the history of this nation. Thank you, Keith.

musingsofanoldfart

I read this week from an UPI article that 60% of millennials and Gen-Zers are unaware that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis in World War II. I use the word “exterminated” as that is what the Nazis did by gassing Jews after they rounded them up. If the brashness of this statement offends – I apologize for the needed candor. It is meant to wake people up.

But, the Nazi genocide of Jews is among too many persecutions around the world and over time. The United States has had three persecutions of groups of people, two of which leading to many deaths. We should never forget these sad parts of our history or white-wash (word intentionally chosen) them away.

– European settlers of the US over time seized land from, killed many and moved Native Americans over the course of three centuries. Even today…

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♫ Cat’s in the Cradle ♫ (Redux)

Our friend Keith posted yesterday about the songs he used to sing to his children when they were little, and a number of the songs he mentioned stood out to me.  A few I have already played or maybe even over-played here, some I haven’t, but this one, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, jumped before my eyes.  It is an old favourite, but seeing it on the post where Keith recounts many, many nights of singing his babies to sleep … the contrast hit me.  Too many … both men and women, fathers and mothers, fail to realize just how short their children’s childhood actually is and they keep saying, “Tomorrow”.  My hat is off to our friend Keith for being home with his babes and singing them to sleep at night.

I have played this one here before, but it was nearly three years ago, back in 2018, so … pretend you’ve forgotten and enjoy the music one more time, okay?


I’ve always liked this song, which was Harry Chapin’s only #1 hit song.

The song’s lyrics began as a poem written by Harry’s wife, Sandra “Sandy” Gaston; the poem itself was inspired by the awkward relationship between her first husband, James Cashmore, and his father, John, a politician who served as Brooklyn borough president. She was also inspired by a country music song she had heard on the radio. Chapin also said the song was about his own relationship with his son, Josh, admitting, “Frankly, this song scares me to death.”

Harry Chapin was a dedicated humanitarian and arguably the most politically and socially active American performer of the 1970s.  He fought to end world hunger; he was a key participant in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger in 1977.  In 1987, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work.  According to his wife, “Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, ‘Money is for people,’ so he gave it away.”

Sadly, Chapin’s career was cut short in July 1981 when, at age 39, he was killed in a fiery car crash.  His wife and son Josh carry on his philanthropic legacy through the Harry Chapin Foundation. Chapin is buried in the Huntington Rural Cemetery in Huntington, New York. His epitaph is taken from his 1978 song “I Wonder What Would Happen to This World”:

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world

Cat’s In The Cradle
Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day;
Came to the world in the usually way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
He was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it.
And as he grew he said,
“I’m gonna be like you, Dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, my son turned ten just the other day.
He said , “Thanks for the ball, Dad. Come on, let’s play.
Could you teach me to throw ?” I said, “Not today.
I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s okay.”
And he walked away and he smiled and he said,
“You know,
I’m gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I’m gonna be like him.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
“I’m proud of you. Could you sit for a while ?”
He shook his head and he said with a smile,
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please ?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
“I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu,
But it’s sure nice talkin’ to you, Dad.
It’s been sure nice talkin’ to you.”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Songwriters: Sandy Chapin / Harry F. Chapin
Cats In The Cradle lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

A Republican voter sent the following letter to the editor

We often make the mistake of categorizing people by their religion or political affiliation, and I’m as guilty as the next person. But our friend Keith has posted a letter to the editor that appeared in his local paper by a lifelong Republican, that makes so much sense, that shows us not every Republican is willing to follow their leaders off of a steep cliff. It is my hope that there are many more Republicans who feel this way and aren’t afraid to say so! Thank you, Keith, for sharing this!

musingsofanoldfart

The following letter by a “lifelong registered Republican voter” appeared in my newspaper’s Letters to the Editors. I agree with what is said by someone who is as disillusioned and concerned as I am about the direction of the Republican party. It was under a banner of “GOP Censorship.”

“I’m a lifelong registered Republican voter disturbed by the GOP’s elitist push for censorship. From the manufactured outrage over Critical Race Theory to tortured justifications for unconstitutional voter suppression legislation, Republican conservatives are showing themselves to be thin-skinned, intolerant and frankly ignorant about the basic ideas of what makes America great.

This reflexive obedience to elite authoritarianism by millions of Christian Republican conservatives didn’t start with the Trump administration. Sadly, it doesn’t look as it will end with it, either. The majority of patriotic Americans must stand vigil against this tide or repression and fear.”

I will leave his name off…

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Daryl Davis Is Still Going Strong

In 2017, Keith and I both wrote about a man named Daryl Davis, a Black man who is doing more than his share to help white supremacists stop being white supremacists, one at a time.  If you’re interested, here are links to Keith’s post and mine.  Last weekend, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof’s column looked to Davis and his technique in hopes of taking a page from Davis’ playbook to find ways to deal with people on the other side of the many divisive issues we are confronted with today. I think it is well worth considering …


‘How Can You Hate Me When You Don’t Even Know Me?’

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

One of the questions I’m asked most is: How do I talk to those on the other side of America’s political and cultural abyss? What can I say to my brother/aunt/friend who thinks Joe Biden is a socialist with dementia who stole the election?

I’ve wondered about persuasion strategies, too, because I have friends who have their pro-Trump or anti-vaccine biases validated every evening by Tucker Carlson. So I reached out to an expert at changing minds.

Daryl Davis, 63, is a Black musician with an unusual calling: He hangs out with Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis and chips away at their racism. He has evidence of great success: a collection of K.K.K. robes and hoods given him by people whom he persuaded to abandon the Klan.

His odyssey arose from curiosity about racism, including about an attack he suffered. When Davis was 10 years old, he says, a group of white people hurled bottles, soda cans and rocks at him.

“I was incredulous,” Davis recalled. “My 10-year-old brain could not process the idea that someone who had never seen me, who had never spoken to me, who knew nothing about me, would want to inflict pain upon me for no other reason than the color of my skin.”

“How can you hate me,” he remembers wondering, “when you don’t even know me?”

Davis began to work on answers after he graduated from Howard University and joined a band that sometimes played in a Maryland bar that attracted white racists. Davis struck up a friendship with a K.K.K. member, each fascinated by the other, and the man eventually left the K.K.K., Davis said.

One of Davis’s methods — and there’s research from social psychology to confirm the effectiveness of this approach — is not to confront antagonists and denounce their bigotry but rather to start in listening mode. Once people feel they are being listened to, he says, it is easier to plant a seed of doubt.

In one case, Davis said, he listened as a K.K.K. district leader brought up crime by African Americans and told him that Black people are genetically wired to be violent. Davis responded by acknowledging that many crimes are committed by Black people but then noted that almost all well-known serial killers have been white and mused that white people must have a gene to be serial killers.

When the K.K.K. leader sputtered that this was ridiculous, Davis agreed: It’s silly to say that white people are predisposed to be serial killers, just as it’s ridiculous to say that Black people have crime genes.

The man went silent, Davis said, and about five months later quit the K.K.K.

Davis claims to have persuaded some 200 white supremacists to leave the Klan and other extremist groups. It’s impossible to confirm that number, but his work has been well documented for decades in articles, videos, books and a TED Talk. He also has a podcast called “Changing Minds With Daryl Davis.”

“Daryl saved my life,” said Scott Shepherd, a former grand dragon of the K.K.K. “Daryl extended his hand and actually just extended his heart, too, and we became brothers.” Shepherd ended up leaving the Klan and gave his robes to Davis.

Davis’s approach seems out of step with modern sensibilities. Today the more common impulse is to decry from a distance.

The preference for safe spaces over dialogue arises in part from a reasonable concern that engaging extremists legitimizes them. In any case, society can hardly ask Black people to reach out to racists, gay people to sit down with homophobes, immigrants to win over xenophobes, women to try to reform misogynists, and so on. Victims of discrimination have endured enough without being called upon to redeem their tormentors.

Yet I do think that we Americans don’t engage enough with people we fundamentally disagree with. There’s something to be said for the basic Davis inclination toward dialogue even with unreasonable antagonists. If we’re all stuck in the same boat, we should talk to each other.

“Daryl Davis demonstrates that talking face-to-face with your ideological opponents can motivate them to rethink their views,” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “He’s an extraordinary example of what psychologists have repeatedly shown with evidence: In over 500 studies, interacting face-to-face with an out-group reduced prejudice 94 percent of the time.

“You won’t get through to people until you’ve earned their trust,” Grant added. “You’re not likely to earn their trust until you’ve met them face-to-face and listened to their stories.”

There’s a reason we try to solve even intractable wars by getting the parties to sit in the same room: It beats war. If we believe in engagement with North Koreans and Iranians, then why not with fellow Americans?

At a time when America is so polarized and political space is so toxic, we, of course, have to stand up for what we think is right. But it may also help to sit down with those we believe are wrong.

“If I can sit down and talk to K.K.K. members and neo-Nazis and get them to give me their robes and hoods and swastika flags and all that kind of crazy stuff,” Davis said, “there’s no reason why somebody can’t sit down at a dinner table and talk to their family member.”

Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro is a much needed lesson in our history

I did not plan on an extra post today (actually, I rarely plan them, they just happen) but when I read Keith’s post, it was far too valuable not to share. He makes some points in this post that we ALL need to think about and keep in our minds. And … he tells about the Civil Right’s Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina — a place I would truly love to visit someday. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following post was written about eight years ago, but seems even more relevant today as there are too many who do not want the bad part of our US history taught. This is not a new phenomenon, as a key part of our history is to mask these ugly truths. I am in my sixties, but I never read or heard about what happened in Tulsa, OK and Wilmington, NC until the the last few years. Names like Emmitt Till and Rosa Parks, must be remembered just like those of Martin Luther King and John Lewis.

Yesterday, I had some free time in the Greensboro, North Carolina area and decided to revisit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Why Greensboro? For those of you are old enough to remember or know your history, the museum incorporates and builds off the actual Woolworth’s lunch counter where four African-Americans started…

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♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫

Since today is Juneteenth, and a special celebration since it is now officially a federal holiday, I thought it only appropriate to play some Motown — in my book some of the best music produced in the U.S.!  Of course, since I feature Motown songs and artists pretty often in these posts, I’ve already played most of my favourites at one point or another … some of them twice.  This one I’ve played only once, two years ago in 2019, so it will be new to many of you.   And Happy Juneteenth!


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an R&B/soul song written by the husband/wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown.  Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words “Ain’t no mountain high enough” popped into his head.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original version, which peaked at #19 US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell’s original version, recalled …

“Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell’s vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye’s next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing.”

British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but Ashford & Simpson declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, “We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn’t give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entry to Motown.”

Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations.

In spring 1970, after the Top 20 success of her first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross’ version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts. Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

I prefer the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, but the Diana Ross version is good, as well, so I proffer both!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell

Listen baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me no matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry baby
Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Remember the day I set you free
I told you you could always count on me darling
From that day on, I made a vow
I’ll be there when you want me
Some way, some how

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Oh no darling
No wind, no rain
Or winters cold can stop me baby, na na baby
‘Cause you are my goal
If you’re ever in trouble
I’ll be there on the double
Just send for me, oh baby, ha

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Don’tcha know that there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
Ain’t mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough

Songwriters: Valerie Simpson / Nickolas Ashford
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Unaccountability

Keith, as always, has words of wisdom that need to be heard and heeded far and wide. Thank you, Keith, for reminding us of that oft-forgotten concept of “accountability”.

musingsofanoldfart

Parents have tended to emphasize to our children that they need to be accountable for their actions. When I see a child or adult accept accountability, it impresses.me, probably because it should be more commonplace than it is. “It is my fault, I messed up, and I will take care of it,” are words that need to be said more often.

Sadly, one of the worst examples of the lack of accountability is the former president. He has long avoided accountability which has contributed to his blaming others or avoiding blame for his mistakes. This is a key reason he remains an “enfant terrible” even into his 70s and is well known for his deceitful bent.

The latest example is the sycophants in Congress who are rationalizing his autocratic-like spying on people he perceives as his enemies – Democrats and the mainstream media. This is on top of only seventeen…

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Stop trying to keep your job and start doing your job

I am brain-dead today, but fortunately our friend Keith is not and his thoughts here are well worth sharing. It often seems that while we dutifully pay our taxes, part of which goes to pay our elected representatives, we are not being represented. The politicos seem far more intent on keeping their power and enhancing their wealth than on doing their duty to We the People. Thank you, Keith, for putting this in perspective for us … now if only we can get the people in Congress to listen!

musingsofanoldfart

Too many legislators and elected incumbents focus on trying to keep their job rather than doing their job. As a result, things do not get done, as every issue becomes a wedge issue rather than one that needs to be solved. I have grown long past weary on this lack of leadership and stewardship.

In my career, I have consulted on and actually been a part of several mergers between organizations, both for-profit and non-profit entities. Effective mergers require due diligence, planning and diplomacy. It should not surprise people, but the majority of mergers fail to be as accretive to the cumulative value of the two separate entities as first envisioned. Some actually are dilutive to that combined value – in other words, they fail.

One of the reasons is people involved tend to focus on keeping their jobs or getting good money to leave. They get overly protective of…

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Note to politicians (and so-called news people) – STOP THE NAME CALLING AND LABELING

Our friend Keith tends to be more even-tempered than I am, and his voice is always the voice of reason. With that said, I am sharing Keith’s post from earlier today, for he makes excellent points that our governing bodies, the media, and even we bloggers should consider. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The United States and the world have a lot of problems that need elected officials to address. The problems are multi-faceted in causes, so they require holistic thinking, educated and civil discussion and multi-faceted solutions. Our problems are hard enough to solve when we focus on the facts and issues, but nigh impossible when we listen to name calling and labelling as a substitute for discourse.

So, politicians, here is a simple piece of advice. If you cannot understand the first paragraph, and what you need to do, please resign. We don’t need people who decide not to add value and name call opponents. That is not civil discourse, that is childish playground talk. If you cannot add value with your commentary, please keep your thoughts to yourself. At least this citizen will not be listening to you, nor should others. That includes all politicians, not just the ones who…

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American Winter – what poverty looks like (a reprise from 2013)

Please take 5 minutes to read Keith’s timely reminder about those less fortunate than many of us. We cannot simply ignore the fact that there are many working poor and homeless people who only need a helping hand from us. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following post was written eight years ago, but unfortunately still applies today. Our situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where too many small employers had to close their doors. Some of the observations come from my volunteer work to help homeless working families.If you only have a minute, read the next to last two paragraphs, which speak volumes of why we should help.

There is an excellent documentary on HBO called “American Winter” by Joe Gantz which trackseight Portland families who are struggling in this economy. Please check it out atwww.hbo.com/documentaries/american-winter. This documentary puts a face on poverty and shows what these families are dealing with during the economic crisis. Since Ivolunteer with an agency that helps homeless families, I can assure you the problems portrayed in Portland arein evidence inNorth Carolina and elsewhere in the United States. For example, the median family income…

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