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He not busy being born is busy dying

October 15, 2016

So many people have been disgusted by Trump, and so many have not been disgusted. It’s hard to fathom. “Disgusted” is losing its meaning.

Let’s elect Michelle Obama for President of the US in four years. I want a leader who gives us a vision of what is possible. I miss Shimon Peres. I miss Ben Gurion. (A must see: new film “Ben Gurion: Epilogue”, hour-long interview at his life’s end.) I miss Peres’ vision. But Michelle brings it, soaring way beyond our gut-reaction, in her recent speech. With great presence, she connects to what’s best in us, creating deep comraderie among the decent folks in America, and in the world. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/michelle-obama-says-everything-you-need-know-about-donald-trump

For many people, politics is something that other people are doing. But inspiring, exacerbating fear in our daughters and wives and mothers….that touches us all where we live. The lack of dignity in politics speaks to few of us. The indignity of sexual predation horrifies us all.

Liberal folks in the States often have no first-hand contact with the military. Here in Israel, we all know soldiers. Most of us have been soldiers. When will politics become as personal to us as protecting and honoring our women?

Americans have an army and they deploy it overseas. The Commander in Chief pursues relative restraint in his policies. Israel’s army crosses our border, into what will ultimately be Palestine, in order to control three and a half million people, for nearly 50 years now. Our Commander in Chief seeks confrontation.

President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. For 53 years, Bob Dylan earned the Nobel Prize. Into the heart of the Vietnam War era, while civil rights were still embattled in the South and youth culture rebelled against the submissiveness of the “frozen fifties,” Dylan spoke for our age. Literary snobs are bewailing the form of Dylan’s achievement… it’s not literature, they moan. It is the written word, and through his words and music, Dylan fueled the dreams and struggles of generations, starting with us, the balding sixties’ leftist cohort, to which I gratefully belong.

On a frozen Wisconsin day, we raced from the record store with “John Wesley Harding” and played it over and over, getting the lyric in our bones, haunted by his harmonica as he wailed “All Along the Watchtower.” Our bard, our voice. The tough, clean sound of those songs, the piercing message.

The question isn’t whether this is literature. The question Dylan answers is: What is the purpose of writing? Surely, it is to move people. We faced our parents then, with “The Times They Are A’Changing” on our lips. Through the years, we were helped to get a grip on life, to the tune of Dylan’s songs. We grew our critical eye, we found passion. Just watch his pen, in one song alone……..

And though the rules of the game have been lodged,  It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge

It is not he or she or them or it that you belong to

It’s easy to see, without lookin’ too far, that not much is really sacred

I’ve got nothing to live up to

…bent out of shape by society’s pliers, cares not to come up any higher but rather get you down in the hole that he’s in….

…for them that think death’s honesty won’t fall upon them naturally, life sometimes must get lonely                                 Full lyrics at: http://genius.com/Bob-dylan-its-alright-ma-im-only-bleeding-lyrics Performance at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYajHZ4QUVM The song sings him.

And oh how Dylan poured his loves and heartbreaks and yearnings into his works. We learned to feel, with him at our side. We loved, facing desire and loss and hunger, to the mournful strains of “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.”

Bob Dylan has walked a long road, leaving most of us behind, with our memory. Memory of years when the fire in our belly would not go out. When unmasking injustice and wanton prejudice and violence were what we did. Question is….what do we take with us? What do we do now with what we take with us from that time?” With his literature, Dylan fueled fighters for freedom. We fought the police, overturned their patrol cars, to the sound of Dylan’s “With God on our Side” and “Only a Pawn in their Game.” The heart we brought to those demonstrations is the same heart that beats in our chests today.

Woody Guthrie is gone, and so is Pete Seeger. Dylan lives, should, must be celebrated. But the celebration is also for us, about us. So….. a toast to the children of Bob Dylan…. May we bring Dylan’s searing critique into our discourse, may we bring the lyrical eloquence of a Dylan song into our work. May this celebration awaken in us our longings for a world we want to leave to our grandchildren. And may the longing send us out to engage our world in the inevitable work of bringing the tomorrow we seek.

Yoav Peck

 

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One Comment
  1. Always left with something more after reading what you write – which goes with me further. Thank you for your wake up calls, Yoav, Shana Tova!

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