Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Man Who

Back in the 1960s, my Dad served as clerk to the Board of Selectmen in a small New Hampshire town. On one occasion, he was to drop off some paperwork to one of the Selectmen at his home. Upon approaching the door, Dad noticed that the door was open with just a screen door in place. Shortly, he heard a woman's voice calling "Man Who," "Man Who." Dad did not know what to make of this strange call out. He knocked on the door and soon the lady of the house appeared. She explained that she was calling her cat and that she named him "Man Who" after listening to all the political pundits on television claiming they were the man who did this or that. Dad came away chuckling. He always did enjoy humor.

Humor seems to be what is lacking in our current election process. The Democratic debates showed no levity whatsoever. Not that there is a lot to laugh or joke about in today's America. We all know the problems and they seem to only be getting worse.

I like to think of the 1960s. There was much civil disobedience, much vocalization when it came to folksingers speaking out and singing out their hearts, trying to call the status quo into some kind of accountability. There was hope, too. "We Shall Overcome" and "Not Gonna Study War No More" were two of the more popular songs. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were oh so young back then, just "kids" really but people with a social conscience.

When I think of it, folk music has always been the voice of the common folk who have been concerned with issues bigger than themselves. Whether the topic was prison ("Midnight Special" or "Folsom Prison Blues") or the war in Vietnam, there was a song addressed to the issue.

A yellow rose, the symbol of insincerity but beautiful just the same. Let's hope for sincerity and truth in our politics. Rose photo by James Cummings taken in our garden.

Every Sunday night my husband and I have a "date" to do some coloring in my studio while we listen to the New Hampshire Folk Show on National Public Radio. Last week's offerings included many songs that had references to the city of Baltimore, nostalgic thoughts, all. The songs were appropriate due to the previous week's slammings by Tweet by the official Tweeter-in-chief which demonized the city as "rat-infested" and a place "where no one would want to live." These thoughts were followed up with personal attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings who is from Baltimore in retribution for political discourse. The songs leveled the playing field a bit, giving voice in a sense to a city under attack.

Baltimore has always been a fine city and in the mid-19th century, the place where the famed "Baltimore Album" quilts were made and presented to departing Methodist ministers. These quilts are some of the most prized in the world and have, in some instances, been duplicated by members of the Baltimore Applique Society (and other quilters) who wanted a challenge.

We need to start seeing the good in places and in each other. We need to bring back communal laughter which could bring on a sense of well-being again. Not laughter in a jeering and hateful manner but perhaps laughter at our own human condition, bringing on a sense that we are all in this life together and need to make the most of that fact.

And so, I leave you with my memory of a cat named "The Man Who." Let's hope that the results of the next election will bring us the man or the woman who can turn this country in a different direction.

No comments: