11 February 2010

Shall We Ever Overcome?

We Shall Overcome: at the moment, The Offspring's favorite song for bedtime. And singing the verses to him -- "we shall live in peace" -- I sometimes feel a despair that it can ever come to pass.

A democrat has been in office for over a year, but the nation is still embroiled in the war his predecessor left him. The price the citizens of Iraq are still paying for that war is in evidence with the daily headlines. Every day, another suicide bomber; every day, another dozen or so dead.

But today, it seemed, some of our American taboos were falling. The Times reported that a pretty healthy majority of Americans polled support the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. (Less, however, support the same rights for homosexuals. Go figure.)

The Times also reported today on Harold E. Ford Jr., who is considering running for senate against Kirsten Gillibrand, who won Hillary Clinton's seat after Clinton joined the Obama government. Ford took a job in New York a few years back after some people in his home state of Tennessee objected to his marriage.

No, not to someone of the same gender, but to someone of a different race.

The writer of the article in the Times was very carefully blase about that part. (But doesn't it seem a bit oddly inconsistent to object to sameness in the one case but difference in the other?)

And night after night, a six-year-old boy asks his mother to sing "we'll walk hand in hand." Maybe that fact itself spells optimism for the next generation. Repetition amplifies yet obscures the meaning of the verses, and they acquire the feel of prayer, conviction mixed with faith even if they don't (yet) speak truth.

Here's hoping that to a generation to follow, they will.