En el poder de la canción (on the power of song)
About the time Michael Elswick was wrapping up work deep inside the Upper Big Branch mine, he phoned a colleague on the surface with an ominous if relatively routine report.
Three conveyer belts needed to be sprinkled with pulverized stone to cover a layer of combustible coal dust and reduce its danger, the veteran coal miner said, according to a copy of a log book The Associated Press obtained through an open records request.
Just 32 minutes later, Elswick and 28 other men were dead.– Associated Press
Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall
Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all
…Yet she’s only as rich as the poorest of her poor
Only as free as the padlocked prison door
Only as strong as our love for this land
Only as tall as we stand– Phil Ochs, 1964
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.– President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
Anybody unmoved by that performance and in doubt of the power of music should certainly look up a Chilean named Víctor Jara.
I know next to nothing about Sebastián Piñera, the President of Chile, but I do know, just from seeing news coverage over the past few weeks, that he cares about the common people of his country more than any U.S. President since Kennedy.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from Chile.