I was sitting around listening to Echo, which is a quasi-AI quasi-on-demand radio service, and a great way to find new music - think of it as a DMCA complient napster with a DJ - and this Jackson Browne song came on.

: Now I'd never really listened to much Jackson Browne, but I recognized the name, from the song 'Doctor My Eyes', which I'm sure you've heard if you ever listen to 80's rock - I think we all have heard it at some point or another.

Anyway, the sound was fresh and yet familiar - that classic 80s guitar rock with a little bit of electronic help and a bit o' synth. Definately 80s pop-rock-dance-whatever you want to call it. But the words..

As if I really didn't understand that I was just another part of the plan

Who hasn't been there? Which of us doesn't realize that in every move we make, we're powering the powers that be - every time we pull into the gas station to buy some more gas, we're putting money in the pockets of The Man..

I went off looking for the promise, beleiving in the motherland

I guess it took a while for me to realize that this wasn't the greatest country in the world. I'd always been sold that by my parents, and I'd never really questioned the assumption too strongly. I mean, I gave lip service to questioning the assumption, but at first my only political leanings were enviornmental and anti-censorship ones. I went driving across the country - several times - meeting people and seeing places. It took quite a while for me to realize that the system truly was rotton to the core, and the american dream (tm) was somewhere between asleep and dead.

From the comfort of a dreamer's bed, and the safety of my own head I went off speaking of the futre while other people fought and bled

About the time I was coming of age, the gulf war was going on. I didn't exactly understand the political significance of it at the time - it wasn't until a few years later that I came to realize that our government was fatally flawed. But even without understanding what was going on, I was against this war, against all wars. However, I was still far too young and idealistic to really know _why_ this was. For that matter, I'm sure I still have many, many lessons to learn.

The kid I was when I first left home was looking for his freedom and a life of his own. But the freedom that he found wasn't quite as sweet when the truth was known.

I guess when it all truly fell apart for me was when I realized that the cold war was almost entirely built up on a sham. I was talking to a russian via ICQ, and I realized - both from talking to him and from what I remembered of reading Heinlien's book about touring Russia during the cold war - I realized these people were NEVER mad at us. They got into space before we did - possibly because they valued the technolgy more and human life less - and we got mad at _them_. We bent some things that their leaders said out of context to make it sound like they were about to come attack us - at which point they had no choice but to view us as a enemy. But really, we have NO excuse for the way our government behaved towards the russian government during the cold war - and the cold war was a sham. When I started to understand that - more and more with each passing year on the net - I started to wonder what it was that made america what it was. And I began to understand that the answer was, simply, money. America's got it backwards.. the money says 'in god we trust' - but in fact, the churhes should say 'in money we trust'. Because capitolism is the state religion. (with christianity a close second - something I also don't agree with - but that's another topic)

I have prayed for america, I was made for america, it's in my blood and in my bones

It's true. I can't imagine anything better than the right to think and speak about anything you want - to develop new ideas, even if they are ideas for new and different and possibly better forms of government. That is what the first amendment promises, and it's a beautiful promise.

Unfortunately, we no longer deliver on that promise. The first chinks that I remember where when the government decided that talking about communism was contra-democracy (which is funny since we're not a democracy, and I don't remember anything about capitolism being part of our constitution). In world war two, we rounded up everyone of Japenese decent on the west coast and put them in war camps. People who were honest, good american citizens - who had nothing to do with perl harbor. One of the truly horrid moments of US history, and one of the first chips flaking off the old first amendment. (Of course, dropping the atom bomb was pretty reprehensable too, but that's another topic also).

Then a guy named McCarthy hunted people down and attempted to make their lives very, very difficult because he didn't like their ideas. He convinced the FBI to make the lives of ordinary people hell (a tradition that stands to this day - in fact they went around following John Lennon and making his life difficult - finally almost expelling him from the country, and making fine notes like 'subject insists he is the walrus'). Of course, John Lennon wrote Imagine - which was just FULL of dangerous ideas.

Then a guy named Kevin Mitnik got several years in jail for lying on the telephone. (It's called social engineering). And, when he finally was released, they denied him his first ammendment rights to talk about certian subjects. Whups, was that the constitution tearing I just heard?

There are thousands more examples. Peaceful protesters in several cities have been tear-gassed by the police for no other crime than disagreeing with the status quo and looking scary. The police don't seem to realize that they're just throwing fuel on the fire, because now we _really_ have something to be angry about. (For more on this whole situation, check out The Independant Media Center. The dream is over.

By the dawn's early light, by all I know is right, we're gonna reap what we have sown

Now here is one that I truly beleive. We're in a position where we have to spend billions of dollars on defense, because we have done so many horrid things to so many people that it's entirely possible that the second we let our guard down, they're going to come stomp on us. And we deserve it. That's the worst part.

It's very difficult to be a american, understanding that your country has done so many fundamentally evil things.. (Quiz question - who's the only country ever to have dropped a atom bomb?) .. and know there's nothing you can do about it. Sooner or later, we're going to start another war over oil - in the meantime we're going to continue destroying and throwing away resources.. (yah, you all keep driving your SUVs to work every day) - and there's nothing I can do about it. Nada. Zip.

As if freedom was a question of might, as if loyalty were black and white.

It's true. Many people - I've noticed christians in general are guilty of this more than most, but just about everyone does it to some extent(myself included) try to turn complex interlocking webs of greyness into black and white issues so they can apply nice black and white stances on them. But life ISN'T black and white..

Or is it? True speech suggests that it in fact is. Can true speech manipulate reality? I'd argue that it can do a better job than lies, and that I've seen proof of that over the last few days. As for the subject of freedom - if the only way we can maintain our freedom is with a army the same size as several other countries, than we are in sad shape indeed. The proper way to maintain our freedom is to be in a good enough place in the international community that if someone were to attack us, our allies would help us repel them - and to behave nicely enough and responsably enough that no one would want to attack us.

Obviuosly that aint happening.

You hear people say it all the time, 'My country wrong or right'

My mom's a big beleiver in this one, and it just IRKS me.

I want to know what that's got to do with what it takes to find out what's true with everyone from the president on down trying to keep it from you

This statement captures the spirit of america lately so thoroughly that I doubt if I even have to explain it.

The thing I wonder about the dads and moms that send their sons to the Vietnams is will they think their way of life has been protected as the next war comes?

Gil Scott-Heron wrote once 'We no longer fight to keep our shores safe - just to keep the factories going in the arms-making workplace'. I think it's a accurate description of the current situation of our country.

Perhaps, however, I have been deluded. Possibly even by myself. Or maybe this is a lesson, delivered via television to all children. How old IS the internet? We surely aren't the first generation to have used it? I claim to have been at HTTP 1.0, but that's not really true at all - I was at MobileIP, and I didn't contribute much but questions. The song continues in this vien for a while.. and then it delivers the killer punch. The knockout. The one that ought to leave us reeling, if any of us were paying enough attention to care..

I have prayed for america - I was made for america - I can't let go until she's come 'round - until the land of the free is awake and can see, and until her concience has been found

It's very rare that a song affects me as much as this one did. Usually I can listen to new music and be nicely isolated from the meaning - or think about it intellectially. This song had me somewhere between angry and crying - because every word of it was so true, and we've - I've - forgotten it all.

Of course, I immediately logged into Gnutella and downloaded the song - I doubt if I could even find it on CD, and certainly not in any local record store. And I listened to it many more times.. and still listen to it from time to time. And it begs some questions. Surely there must be a way to buy music. How a country can ever put such shamefull decisions by the government as Vietnam, the Gulf war, etc behind it, I don't know. Why they didn't drop the first atom bomb somewhere off the coast of japan where it wouldn't hurt anyone - or at least not drop two of them - I don't know. Why we think that it's acceptable for us with 10% of the world's population to use 25% of the world's resources and provide 25% of the world's pollution, I don't know. Why we don't even notice, or care - I don't know. Is any of this even true? I don't know. I've not read history. I've skipped school entirely. I went off to create, and creating is fun, but I'd like to have some idea what needs created now. I fell for a can of compressed air being a drug. I'm pretty uneducated. But I'm not dumb. Maybe someone out there in webland can explain it to me. Until then, this is Sheer, signing off.

Back home | Music