♫ Get Together ♫ (Redux)

Tonight, after reading Keith’s post, I really wanted to play Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train”, but I just played it 4 months ago and that’s a little soon for a redux.  Still, I wanted a song that carried the message of peace, of ‘live and let live’, of caring about our fellow humans, of acceptance for who we are.  The United States today is a depressing place to live — so much hatred that you can almost feel it in the air.  They say that ‘music hath charms to soothe the savage beast’, so if that’s the case, then maybe songs like this one can help.  I don’t know, but … I have to try.


The idea for tonight’s song was planted in my brain by our friend rawgod … he mentioned the song in a comment, and as soon as I read it, I knew this was to be my song of the day.  I had been searching for something meaningful, something that spoke to the times we are all, both in and out of the U.S., going through.  Racism, intolerance, autocratic leaders, populism, white supremacy, social discord and unrest.  This song came from the 1960s … Vietnam War protests, the ‘Summer of Love’, cries for Peace.

The song has quite a history and seems to have been covered by every musician for a decade or two, but the history is so long that I am disinclined to put it on this post.  However, if you’re interested, check it out on SongFacts.  The version that most remember, and the one I like best, is by the Youngbloods.  I was torn between two very different videos … one a compilation of scenes from the 60s, and the other a studio version.  Since I couldn’t decide, I am posting both for you to choose or watch both if you wish.  The message is the same, either way:  peace and brotherhood, love over fear & hate.

Get Together
The Youngbloods

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

I said, come on people now

Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Right now
Right now

Songwriters: Chester Powers / Chester William Jr. Powers
Get Together lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Get Together ♫

The idea for tonight’s song was planted in my brain by our friend rawgod … he mentioned the song in a comment, and as soon as I read it, I knew this was to be my song of the day.  I had been searching for something meaningful, something that spoke to the times we are all, both in and out of the U.S., going through.  Racism, intolerance, autocratic leaders, populism, white supremacy, social discord and unrest.  This song came from the 1960s … Vietnam War protests, the ‘Summer of Love’, cries for Peace.

The song has quite a history and seems to have been covered by every musician for a decade or two, but the history is so long that I am disinclined to put it on this post.  However, if you’re interested, check it out on SongFacts.  The version that most remember, and the one I like best, is by the Youngbloods.  I was torn between two very different videos … one a compilation of scenes from the 60s, and the other a studio version.  Since I couldn’t decide, I am posting both for you to choose or watch both if you wish.  The message is the same, either way:  peace and brotherhood, love over fear & hate.

Get Together
The Youngbloods

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

I said, come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Right now
Right now

Songwriters: Chester Powers / Chester William Jr. Powers
Get Together lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Have We Forgotten How To Be Human?

How many times in the last month have you said “I just don’t know what is wrong with people today”?  Or, “What is this world coming to?”  If you are like me, you say that on a daily basis, perhaps every time you pick up a newspaper, turn on the television, or log onto the internet.  I sometimes think I need a 3-day hiatus from the outside world … no internet, no television/radio, no forays outside the home, just peace.  But alas, SIGH, I am a news junkie and unless forced by either death or an electrical outage, I am not likely to allow myself that break.

So, what is the world coming to and what is wrong with people?  The answer to both questions is the same, in my humble opinion:  a lack of humanity.  Humanity: compassion, brotherly love, fraternity, fellow feeling, philanthropy, humaneness, kindness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance; leniency, mercy, mercifulness, clemency, empathy, compassion, tenderness; benevolence, charity, goodness, magnanimity, love, generosity.  Now turn on your television … any program, any channel … and tell me how many of the above-named traits you can find in a 10-minute period.  I am betting your answer will be zero.

When we allow ourselves to believe that we are somehow ‘better’, or more deserving than other people, whether on the basis of race, skin colour, religious beliefs, or culture, we take a step away from the concept of humanity.  It is human nature to live in our own small world, to put our own needs and desires first, and I cannot argue with human nature, as it is no different today than it was 1,000 years ago.  But for a time it seemed that we were on the path to becoming a kinder, more gentle society; a society that was trying to overcome prejudices and see others as different, but not inferior.  But today that trend is reversing.  Today we are regressing back to a society that views all who do not look, act, speak, and think like us as being somehow inferior.  And that is just wrong.  It is a reversal of the lessons learned during the migration from Europe to the New World seeking freedom of religion.  It is a reversal of the lessons learned from the devastation of an entire group of people in the Holocaust. It is a reversal of the lessons learned during the Civil Rights era.  It is a reversal of the hope we once had that human beings might yet be able to learn to live together on this earth in peace and harmony.

Two hundred years ago, people lived in very sheltered, close-knit communities where they might pass a lifetime without ever straying more than 20 or 30 miles from their homes.  Children grew up and took care of their aging parents, neighbors pitched in to help neighbors in times of trouble.  But the globe became smaller, just as our individual worlds expanded, with the advent of communication tools such as telephone, television, and most recently the internet.  And our horizons broadened as access to travel thousands of miles via airplane was made readily available.  This should have been a good thing, should have opened a whole new world of experiences, of learning about other lands, people and cultures to us.  Today, I am not so sure. Perhaps, instead of taking the best of each other’s societies, we have taken only the worst.  Perhaps instead of learning to love more, we have learned to hate more.

Politicians, world leaders, and religious leaders alike, have failed miserably in their jobs to help bring peace among nations.  They scream, they threaten, they bully, and the people eventually follow suit.  Violence is the norm, where it should be the exception.  We believe we have a right to kill another human being, we believe we have a right to deny the basic necessities of food, shelter and medical care to others who are less fortunate than we are.  We believe that we have no responsibility to our fellow mankind.  And therein lies the problem.  We all have a responsibility to others.  But we, as a society, have listened to those who screamed that we must protect ourselves at all costs, even at the cost of another human life.  They would argue that abortion is wrong, yet that it is okay to murder a person because their religion or ideology is different than ours.  They rant that the wealthiest in the land have no responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  We have been told, in essence, that it is “all about us”, and we believed.

If there is any remaining hope for humanity, it lies with our children.  Children do not see others as black or white, as Muslim or Christian, as Syrian, Mexican, or American … they simply see them as potential friends, playmates.  If only we can stop ourselves from poisoning their young minds with our own prejudices, there may yet be hope for humankind.  I wonder how many of those words that I used to define ‘humanity’ any of us can honestly say apply to our lives today.  Can we do better?  Yes.  Will we?  I do not know.

Happy, Joyous, Merry …

Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice, or just plain ol’ Happy Holidays. Say any of the above to me around this time of year and I will feel a warm glow and be happy. Hand me a Peppermint-Mocha Latte with an extra shot of espresso, I will be happy as a lark no matter what cup it is served in. Sing Frosty the Snowman, Winter Wonderland or Ave Maria … I can appreciate any of the above so long as you don’t warble or squeak. Put a nativity scene, a pink flamingo or a Star of David in your yard … it’s cool. Celebrate the holidays in whatever way you wish, follow your family traditions, and spread good cheer and joy. About the only thing I am not okay with is spreading hate or judging others for the manner in which they choose to celebrate. Christmas is no longer only a Christian holiday, if ever it was. I have Muslim friends as well as Jewish friends who celebrate Christmas complete with decorated tree, lighted windows and gifts. Yes, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, though nobody knows when Christ was actually born, but December 25th is as good as any date. However, does that mean that others cannot celebrate the holiday also? Chanukah and Kwanzaa also fall right around this time, and as we all know, the “Christmas Season” lasts for some 7 weeks, from October 31st through December 25th! Isn’t the whole holiday thing supposed to be about sharing, caring, spreading joy, love, peace and goodwill toward men? Just under 71% of U.S. citizens identify with the Christian religion. So, the other 29% … should they be scorned for not repeating “Merry Christmas” to everyone they meet? Why can’t we all say “Shalom” (Hebrew for peace)? Why can’t we all say “Happy Holidays”? What does it matter what we say, so long as we say it with kindness and good intentions? And what the heck does it matter what the cup our java comes in looks like, so long as it is clean and doesn’t leak? Here is my challenge to us all for the next six weeks or so:

• Drink your coffee, buy an extra for somebody who doesn’t have one, and forget what the cup looks like
• Say whatever kind thing comes to mind, and thank anyone who wishes you peace and joy in whatever language
• Do something nice for someone every day
• Instead of spending so much money that you are in debt for the next six months, give of yourself, your time, your heart
• Have a great season, celebrate as you wish with friends and family, and let others do the same

Happy Holidays … Merry Christmas … Happy Chanukah!

To Be or Not To Be …. HAPPY

Happiness. What is it? According to Merriam-Webster, it is a “state of well-being and contentment” or “a pleasurable or satisfying experience”. These days it seems that people are eternally seeking this state of well-being without ever finding it. What, you ask, got me started on this murky thought-path? I think it was a culmination of several things: a couple of mean-spirited Facebook posts, the support that Donald Trump seems to be garnering as a result of his hate speeches, the murder of nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, S.C. and the vitriol it sparked, and so much bigotry and hate in the world that it becomes obvious that we, as a society, must not be very happy. How, I ask, can one expect to be happy when one is filled with hatred toward others? And so, I began thinking about happiness, and here are a few of my thoughts on the topic.

There are those who seem to believe that they are entitled to happiness. The U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” … it does not actually guarantee happiness, only that you have the right toe pursue that which makes you happy. What the framers of this document failed to include was that you have this right only so long as it does not infringe on the rights of another or others, but that is a whole other topic best left for another day. No nation, no religion that I am aware of guarantees the right to be happy.

Where, then, does happiness come from? I do not think there is a single recipe for happiness. I think happiness is a very individual emotion and as such, the recipe varies from one person to the next. The reality is that you will either choose to be happy, choose to be miserable, or something in between. Either way, nothing and nobody can be responsible for your happiness. It comes from within, not from without, and the surest path to misery is failing to understand this and relying on material things or other people to make you happy. With that said, certainly friends and family do contribute to your sense of well-being, but they are only a part of the whole picture. Picture the person who seems to have the world on a string, yet that person is miserable and crabby most of the time. Why? On the flip side of that is the person who is suffering a debilitating illness, who has recently lost their job, home, and yet that person still wakes up each day filled with a joie de vivre. What makes these two people so different? An example: Donald Trump has more money than he knows what to do with it, it would seem that the man wants for nothing, but this man is so filled with hatred that every time he speaks he spews ugly, vicious vitriol. Mr. Trump is quite obviously not a happy individual. On the other side of that coin, I have neighbors who are refugees from Syria and had to give up everything they owned, even family pictures, to escape with their children and their lives. They have almost nothing, but they are among the happiest people I know. What makes this difference?

Can we find happiness by seeking it, or is it a part of our biological composition to be either happy or unhappy? I am not a psychologist, so I cannot offer more than my own opinion, but I am an observer of human nature, and my opinion is based on such observations as I have made over the past 6+ decades. It seems to me that happiness eludes those who actively seek it. It is rather like a game of hide and seek … if you go looking for it, you will not likely find it. The same can be said, by the way, for love. There is a difference between what I would call “momentary” happiness and the overall sense of general well-being that was referred by at the start of this essay. Certainly for most people, a day at an amusement park with the kids, or a beautiful fall drive through Vermont would bring momentary happiness, but all too soon that wears off and it’s back to the daily grind. The deeper happiness that carries forward day after day is that which I think we can only find within ourselves. Some find their happiness from their religion, some from family and friends, sufficiency, good health. And others, though blessed with all of the above, still cannot seem to allow themselves to be happy.

The world around us is often filled with pain, suffering and far too much hatred. It sometimes makes it difficult for us to remember from whence our happiness comes. As I said earlier, happiness is different things to different people and I can only know that which I have personally experienced, but I do know that for me, it is a decision to “let the sun shine in” and allow myself to be content, to be thankful for my abilities to think, to read, to enjoy nature and my surroundings. I only wish it were that simple for everyone. I started with a definition and I shall end with one also. My absolute favorite definition of happiness comes from the late Charles Schultz: “Happiness is a warm puppy”.Snoopy2

Merry Christmas!

I have been biting my tongue, or trying to, for weeks now and I find I cannot do so any longer. I must speak to a topic that I find important. In this, the season of JOY, of LOVE, of PEACE ON EARTH, to name a few, there certainly does seem to be a lot of hate going around. There is the usual hatred directed toward any number of politicians, which is fairly normal year-round, but this year seems worse than most. There is hatred toward certain political agendas and policies – the first one that comes to mind, of course, being the Affordable Care Act, followed by NSA security measures and trailed closely by a number of others. On the other side, there is hatred toward those who hate the above-named people and things. And then there is this inane controversy over the interview given by the man I refer to as “Papa Duck”, the man who gave an interview in which he put down the entire LGBT community. The purpose of this blog posting is NOT to promote my own opinions, so I don’t intend to give my opinions here … those of you who know me, know my opinions, and the rest of you probably don’t care. My higher purpose here is to admonish everyone who, in putting forth their own opinion, is being rude to others. Yes, I have been guilty of engaging in some of these conversations, however I hope never to the point of abusing another individual and NEVER to the point of putting down an entire group of people. It is Christmas … there is a lot to do besides posting hate-filled rhetoric on blogs and social media sites! Go bake some cookies, wrap some presents, decorate your home, drive around and look at the pretty lights, invite some friends over, go fight the crowds at the mall, light some candles and have a glass of wine while remembering the many things you have to be thankful for, volunteer a few hours in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Do something that has more to do with LOVE and less to do with hate!

In our ethnically diffused society, Christmas has become a holiday for all to enjoy. Since Christianity is embraced by only about 28% of the world-wide population, I think it is a wonderful thing to see Christmas being shared by anyone who wishes, regardless of religious belief. Many Jews, Muslims and atheists are known to celebrate Christmas more as a secular holiday. It is a time, I think, for sharing love, for expressing hope for a brighter future, for sharing and for giving comfort to those less fortunate. For Christians, certainly it is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. However you view it, it is NOT a time for spewing hatred. It is NOT a time for judging people based on criteria such as race, gender-orientation, culture, or any other superficial criteria.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish a MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL of my friends, Christian as well as non-Christian, and to ask that those of you who are angry about something find positive things to do to bring the joy back into the holiday, into your heart.