cheney, obama and the bi-polar nature of our politics
Listening to Cheney and Obama yesterday reminded me of the first two selections on Buddy Miller’s Universal United House of Prayer. In “I Worry To Much“, there is chaos and fear, and a sense of despair; in “There’s a Higher Power“, one notes a sense of hope. Hearing two starkly different political visions, one based in fear, suspicion, and derision, the other grounded in morality, decency and respect, moved me to reflect on the bi-polar nature of our politics, which our best art often captures. On Memorial Day weekend, we are often confronted with anger (why doesn’t the public honor our troops) and confusion (what was, in fact, the purpose of the last war). At the core there is a sense within most of us that sacrifices, particularly the sacrifice of life, should he honored. I think Iris Dement’s There’s A Wall In Washington grasps the pathos, in an appropriately non-celebratory way. At the same, time, we justifiably resist the notion that divine power must be at the foundation of every war: Dylan’s “With God On Our Side“, again covered by Buddy Miller, summarizes this well. The horror of war is so pervasive, and the resulting implications of sacrifice so profound that our human temptation is to proclaim God’s blessing upon it. To enter into the ambiguity is difficult, but necessary, and this is Obama’s gift, at the moment, to us. To live in that tension—which is, in actuality, where most or us reside—-is to honor the sacrifice but to question the abuse of such a sacrifice. And the prodding of these polarities, and sometimes this occurs most effectively in traditional music that makes a non-traditional, and even an edgy statement, is the calling of the prophetic musician. At times the musician stands at the margins and speaks, as Buddy Miller did in 2004. At times, we have the good fortune of having a leader who stands at the center of power and speaks the truth.