super hanc petram

Monday, October 25

Let Me Die in My Footsteps  

As the fear-mongering reaches a fever-pitch, I find myself singing to myself more and more often Dylan's elegant response to our earlier confrontation with the nuclear threat. Back then, of course, it was far more likely that we would be attacked with nuclear weapons.
I will not go down under the ground "Cause somebody tells me that death's comin' 'round An' I will not carry myself down to die When I go to my grave my head will be high, Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. There's been rumors of war and wars that have been The meaning of the life has been lost in the wind And some people thinkin' that the end is close by "Stead of learnin' to live they are learning to die. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. I don't know if I'm smart but I think I can see When someone is pullin' the wool over me And if this war comes and death's all around Let me die on this land 'fore I die underground. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. There's always been people that have to cause fear They've been talking of the war now for many long years I have read all their statements and I've not said a word But now Lawd God, let my poor voice be heard. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. If I had rubies and riches and crowns I'd buy the whole world and change things around I'd throw all the guns and the tanks in the sea For they are mistakes of a past history. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. Let me drink from the waters where the mountain streams flood Let me smell of wildflowers flow free through my blood Let me sleep in your meadows with the green grassy leaves Let me walk down the highway with my brother in peace. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground. Go out in your country where the land meets the sun See the craters and the canyons where the waterfalls run Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho Let every state in this union seep in your souls. And you'll die in your footsteps Before you go down under the ground.
There are two messages that I find most important in the song. First, that it is vital that we get out and see our country. It is gigantic, and its size and diversity are a great gift to us as citizens. We have to go out and visit our fellow Americans. To get out and meet people in red, blue and purple states. The second message is that there will always be fear mongers and they will always try to scare us back into our homes. There we are isolated and can be further harangued that the enemy is right outside our door. Circling back to the first message, by getting out and meeting our countrymen we make ourselves immune to the fear mongers. Now I am no peacenick. Our country does have very real enemies that have killed thousands of us and would like to do so again. But it is also true that those enemies are few. Very few when compared to our allies, and those who earnestly desire our help, but have thus far been let down by a scattershot policy. Our challenge as citizens is to recognize the real enemy from the scare campaign. Sadly, our government (and most others of any age) has a rather long history of ginning up foreign controversies that cause the populace to (on cue) rally 'round the flag and forget whatever 'populist boil' may be stirring the old melting pot at the time. It is neither easy nor pleasant to point the finger at elected officials and cry deception but if we allow ourselves to be frightened into submission, we end up with, well, Iraq. Everything is not a conspiracy. And a government official can be earnest is his concern over foreign threats and still be a fear-monger. But it is our own peculiar nationalism that assumes the politician will lie about domestic policies only to be totally virtuous on foreign ones. The current administration embraces the politics of fear and war with truly distressing glee. In many ways I look at next week's election as a referendum on whether we as citizens will be defiant to both the terrorist and the demagogue (yes one can resist both in the cause of defending the nation) and announce, in the face of a relentless fear campaign, that we will not go down under the ground.


Previous Posts:  On exorcising demons  …  The Levels of Choking and Panicking  …  Suprised Eddie?  …  No, no a thousand times no!  …  The Truth About Muslims  …  See New York City by subway?!?!?  …  Dick Cheney. Trial Lawyer.  …  Bush Wins Second Debate  …  New Yorkers & 9/11  …  Assessing Foreign Policy  … 

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