Sunday, September 3, 2006

I'm sitting here, typing away to the sounds of Dylan’s latest effort. He's a piece from the album called Working Man's Blues 2.

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak
Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see
While I'm listening to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Well, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag 'em all down to hell and I'll stand 'em at the wall
I'll sell 'em to their enemies
I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come
In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can feel a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the frontline
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, and they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime
I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always
Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with your words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you've heard

n you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you
All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance
I got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Why does it seem that the majority in our social order are drugged and working to get to the top of the deluded heap through acts of desperation and calumny? What is achieved through the games that we play?
Some people shine with an eerie glow of self-assurance while silently scheming the next act of showmanship to sell themselves to their higher-ups as worthy of promotion and more power in the game, while others struggle against scheme until they finally succumb to whatever is their greatest personal strength and most anemic affliction in the face of the powers and currents in our society.
The system we live in mirrors humanity's halting progress, with each struggle etching its way on the rules, piling ethical weakness upon strength. Each individual is much the same, with an added dimension: each is surrounded by others struggling just as mightily to find security and happiness, the strength of the collective behind every individual's acts, for good or ill, with edification or destruction the result.
People fight against what they see as wicked or wrong, almost viscerally and instinctually. They do so from a position that they see as strength, whether that is godly, intellectual or simply moral. Humans rally around common goals through war, religion, crusade, cause or revenge. Those who rally are bestowed with a feeling of justification and strength as the goal benefits from the strength generated. It doesn't matter whether that goal is truly correct or right, it just matters that the goal accumulates power in numbers and opinion.
Throughout history, the weak in mind, morals, perception, numbers, or finances have been perceived by others as 'wrong' and often, 'evil.' The fault of villainy has been pinned on all manner of weakness since the beginning of time. The Jews had their scapegoats, Christians their blasphemers, Muslims their heretics and secularists their hopeless fools. The strength of purpose infused by the agreed application of the label of 'other' at some level has benefited nearly every association, whether with a membership of millions or of a person dealing with one’s own self. It’s an inherent tactic of basal human psychology.
It doesn't matter whether there is a moral, ethical or godly imperative; the scapegoat loses strength as the majority group becomes stronger. That sort of strength often gains momentum unless it arouses an opposing force able to rally opinion and force that breaks the wave of destruction against the 'other.' It's that simple.
Even in our virtuous republic, the working man remains weak in the social order until he realizes that work doesn't beget power. It only enriches powerbrokers over him while they dole out tokens of recreation and diversion. If he breaks free of the system somehow to create a separate peace instead of selling out or buying in, he only calls upon himself the wrath of those who were formerly his taskmasters who label him 'insane,' 'delusional,' 'rabble-rouser,' or plain wrong.
If such a person accumulates followers or comrades, the full force of the majority is called upon to condemn the outsiders as a cult, as dangerous mavericks or troublemakers. If the formerly powerless person or group feels threatened and begins to amass monetary and martial power and postures to defend, law and government often become active in condemnation of the outsider. If the situation escalates a bit more in either camp, the outsider elicits the most unmitigated scapegoat labels of our time, correctly or not, of subversive or "terrorist."
Why must this be? Why do so many people who cannot abide this world's ways resort to disengagement, crime, and violence or fall victim to isolation, sadness and suicide? Why must we, who call ourselves enlightened and rational act in such a benighted and irrational way as to carry on the foolish traditions of our ancestors in scapegoating those who might lead us out of our most savage and selfish ways? The answer is, I reckon, a blowin' in the wind before our own eyes. History can be our best teacher, and change our best friend, unless we wish to remain in our worst of destructive behaviors, condemning that which might lead us to better ways.

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