Posted in Elizabeth Warren, Music, Politics, stress

Time Out for Music

Sometimes it’s  just too much. Every time I open the paper there’s another disaster looming in Washington. We no sooner fend off one attack when another one comes to take its place like a horrific modern version of the Persian Immortals. First it’s health care, then it’s internet privacy, then its the nomination of a right-wing warrior to the still-open seat on the Supreme Court. It’s immigrant policy gone awry by a Twittering imbecile who seems to be taking his marching orders from Wall Street and mainstream Republicans, the very people he pledged to push back. We’re surrounded on all sides and fighting like mad just to stay in the same place.

Like all good revolutionaries, I really do need some serious R&R to stay in the game. We have at least two years until there’s a potential change of guard in Congress. Hopefully, we won’t be a smoking pile of rubble by then, or by 2020.

On the positive side, I’ve come to know my Members of Congress: 2 senators and one congress woman. They’re very progressive. In fact one, Elizabeth Warren, is a rising star and possible someday-president. I meditate every day, try to get out of the house if the weather cooperates (we’ve had a few storms roar past these last few weeks) and my energy level is up to it. Today, I happened to be working on a business page I have on Facebook and came across the part of the feed that digs up something from your past:

I usually ignore it, but this time I didn’t. A year ago one of my cousins shared a video of a group of women singing traditional Polish folk songs. I grew up hearing the Americanized versions of some of these and hated their corny, jerky rhythms with a passion. But this – this was different. It was beautiful and it touched something in me, I think because of the elderly woman who was sitting next to them. She was just listening to the song at first then, tentatively, began to sing along with the lyrics as she remembered them. Towards the end she added a few additional, quavering lyrics of her own.

That woman could have been my grandmother.

It’s a very sad, old love song. A woman is in an apple orchard and sings about a boy who’s become angry at her for unknown reasons. After a while, though, he forgives her and comes back. It’s very rural with themes that run throughout Slavic traditional music. There’s always a girl. Or a boy. Fill in with orchards, fields and animals and you have a Slavic folk song.

My grandmother loved to sing and took every opportunity to do so. It kept us amused as kids and filled lonely hours when we were away at school and my parents at work. Now that I’m older and my grandmother (babcia, in Polish) is long, long gone I wish I’d learned some of those songs and sang them for her, along with my fiddle, like the woman in the video does. I wish I had her back, just to do that and re-connect with something very old and down to the roots.

 

Posted in Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Occupy-Wall-Street, Politics, Womens March

Add One More Activist

I’ve participated in American democracy primarily by voting, at least up until now. I voted when I turned 18 and still show up for every election in the many, many years since. Like many of us, the election of Donald Trump has suddenly turned me into an honest-to-God activist. I’m calling my representatives in congress, writing letters to the paper and will be meeting a member of my Congresswoman’s staff this Friday. My Congresswoman will still be in DC. Otherwise I’d be meeting with her in person. I’ve been watching videos of town meetings in other parts of the country, where hundreds or thousands of people have been turning up to protest and let their elected reps know they’re on notice.

Republicans, alas, control both houses of Congress so there have been setbacks. We have a Secretary of Education who knows nothing about public schools or college education. We have a Secretary of State (Jeff Sessions) who was condemned by Coretta Scott King back in the 1980s for his support of racism and segregation. My Senator, Elizabeth Warren, was shut down by Republicans before she could conclude her testimony against Sessions. As a result, #she persisted is now a viral meme on the internet.

The Supreme Court nomination process worries me. These are lifetime appointments and we have a split court. It’s been rightward-tilting up until the death of one of the judges and the Republicans held up Obama’s nominee for an entire year. Right now we have four liberals and four conservatives. Another conservative could set progress back for generations. Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to pass, which means some Democrats will have to vote for him. At the very least, there’s a great deal of pressure on them to delay or defer that vote. A lot of people are saying that the seat was stolen by the Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s candidate for so long. Maybe we’ll just have to wait, at least until 2018 when we might be able to get the Senate back, this time with forward-thinking, progressive Democratic candidates.

It’s been an amazing time. Massive demonstrations and mass actions everywhere. It feels different, like we’re on the verge of a revolution. All the energy that went into the Occupy, Black Lives Matter and other movements feel like they’ve come together into one, huge, uproar.

And maybe the women will lead. The Womens March, Elizabeth Warren and the rest may be at the head of the line this time, leading us to change.