Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Waves of Freedom

Credit: Lajon Webb
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.
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This is an adaptation of this song by Eric Andersen from the time when it inspired the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.

In early June of this year, I retired from teaching. This was a happy time because it meant I would be free of the demand and distractions of every day employment and I could turn my working hours toward writing my book A Republic If We Can Keep It and articles, poems, and other items for BrooWaha and elsewhere. It was also a poignant time, because to some extent I was going to introduce degrees of separation into my relationships with an extraordinary band of professionals. All of these exemplary women and men were by their ages, young enough to be my children. All of these wonderful people would by their actions have made me an exceedingly proud father. They are creative, commited, capable people who each day do a difficult and complex job with insufficient resources, reluctant and resistant students, and resiliant, good humored grace and skill. The lazy, overpaid, petulant teachers villified by demagogic politicians bear no resemblence to these shining stars.

Having had the good fortune to meet these people, work beside them, and gain their friendship, I had no intention of severing connections with them. I also did not want them to think for a moment that I would forget about them. That I would be indifferent to the challenges they face and the attacks made upon them. During the time we worked together, I had frequently championed their cause and mine before local and state authorities. I wanted to ensure that they knew this would continue.

Along with my goodbye letter, I gave them this poem which is an adapted and updated version of a song from the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the mid to late 1960s. Now we are again in a period when reactionary politicians and a fearful and angry populace are looking for somebody to bear the brunt of their fear and anger. The difference is that now the scapegoating is not confined to one state or even to one section of the country.

Americans and particularly young Americans have seen and faced up to such things before. Now I am among the elders. It is time for me to return the favors done for me long years ago. For my sons and my treasured younger colleagues, for the fallen heroes of my youth, for the good and growing community of thinkers, learners, and writers at BrooWaha, I offer this to encourage a renewal of the spirit and a resumption of the practice of a unified and unifying activism through which the Waves of Freedom will wash away the bitterness, bigotry, and belligerence now imperiling the domestic tranquility and general welfare of this land which belongs to you and me.

For your consideration - The Waves of Freedom

They say we are but strangers.

That we have been so all our lives

We have seen a lot of trouble

And we have heard a lot of lies.

But, I will make one promise

Before I take my leave.

We will ride the waves of freedom,

and that you can believe.

That you can believe.

That you can believe!

Now the weather may be stormy

And the waves may block the light.

The winds they will be raging

With all their wrathful might

And the rains will fall in anger

For soon, comes a dreadful fight!

But the dawn is not far breaking, behind the deepest night.

Behind the deepest night

Behind the deepest night

Oh, they have tried throughout the ages

To bind and chain the free.

The greedy and the hateful

Yes, they have tried most fiercely.

But the surging waves of freedom defy all tyranny.

Even in the most furious battle,

The brave will still live free.

For on the waves’ crest come rolling, the tides of victory.

The tides of victory

The tides of victory

Though our foes may seek to sow confusion

While the Fates laugh with cruel mockery

And the waters roil, twist and darken

Freedom’s waves will swell endlessly

They will brave the loudest thunders

Till the calm falls on the sea

And the stormed gates break open

So the waves can roll on free; clear waters we shall see

Clear waters we shall see.

Clear waters we shall see!

They say we are but strangers.

That we have been so all our life

We have seen a lot of trouble

And We have survived a lot of strife

But, I make one solemn promise

Before we take our leave.

We will ride the waves together, and that you can believe.

That you can believe.

That WE can believe!

If we should reach an advanced age, do we want to look into the eyes of young people we love and admit, even if only to ourselves, we could have made a difference, but we lacked the courage to begin and the the commitment to persist? Others may answer for themselves. For my part, I say nay. I have begun; I will continue.

As Bobby Kennedy said to my generation when I was as young as my sons and treasured colleagues -

"Our answer is the world's hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and the obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress. This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease."

Let it be!

About the Writer

Caballero_69 is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Waves of Freedom

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By Caballero_69 on June 18, 2011 at 08:35 am


Talk of inspiration from one who so inspires carries a powerful impact!

The world is the kind of place we choose and struggle to make it.

All the excuses we give ourselves must be recognized as such.

We have a million excuses for despair and detachment. We do not have a single reason.

As a favorite song of my youth declared, We can change the world; Make it believe in Justice; Make it believe in Freedom!

I believed it then and I believe it now. However, nobody is saying it will be easy!

Thank you as ever for your cherished words.

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