History seems doomed to repeat itself as is evident in the news everyday with stories of suicide bombers, protests, and government failing to do right by its people. Reading these stories everyday makes a person wonder if hope has ever existed due to history’s lack of viable reasons to say otherwise. Every war and protest seems to follow the same patterns of behaviors and missteps taken by those in authority who believe they are doing right by their people without consulting their people. Even as a kid we are all told when we get older we will understand but as an adult I understand less now than I did as a child. What purpose does war serve and violence for that matter? Reading through the new and deciding what to write today was a challenge as I grow tired of the hopeless and sad stories I read about North Korea, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and so many more. Today, I look to history to guide me and the music to inspire me.
One of my favorite songs, “Where have all the flowers gone?” by Pete Seeger came to mind while reading the news today. One particular line struck me over and over…when will they ever learn? That is a question I am afraid will never be answered as humanity is already on the path to calamity as tensions rise around the world and through violence more has been accomplished than through peace or so it seems. Even looking at everyday occurrences, it doesn’t take much to see that the world has headed down a dark path not just with war and protests on a large scale, but look at everyday life with children killing children, the increase in suicides, violence against women, and the threat to a happy life for all. How as humans do we process and accept such a bleak reality?…by looking at the past of course.
When will the pattern of behavior change or when did it become okay to threaten violence in order to get the point across? It seems largely ignored when something good comes out of something so horrible because the story is not in the good but in a bad. Do we reinforce bad behavior as good? Maybe. How do we as a society end the cycle that history has found so hard to break? Do we unilaterally lay down arms or do we find peace through strength? I think I have more questions now than I did as a child.
Peace anthems seem to be a thing of the past but to me will ring true as long as people walk the earth and long after the song writers dies. It is there message to the world. I read something interesting on YouTube about Pete Seeger from a user called Thespadecaller:
On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.
In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.
Headlines full of accusations, disapproval, propaganda, violence, fear seem to outweigh human rights, human survival, and hope. Why does it take human tragedy to inspire a small change and why can’t we look to the past to inspire us to be a better version of the past? Pete Seeger a single man sparked a change in his time and his government saw him as a threat…a single man not a million. The song with a melancholy melody and repetitious lyrics lends to the haunting reality of the words that history continues to repeat itself, but with everyday that passes I hope that people begin to understand how to change not only themselves but the world.