A few years ago, driving back from New York, I heard an old interview with Pete Seeger rebroadcast on the radio. I hadn’t heard his music in a long time. He was probably in his 80s at the time of the interview, but his reedy voice was strong in its outrage against injustice and oppression.
As the interview ended, they played a clip of him singing, “We Shall Overcome,”with the audience joining in. “We’ll walk hand in hand,” he sang, and, in the car, I sang, too. “We shall live in peace,” we sang together, and tears started running down my cheeks. This moment was in George Bush’s America, and peace was no longer even a dream.
I guess it started when the effort to combat terrorism was define as “war.” But is there still any hope voiced about the possibility of living in peace? Living with a negotiated settlement maybe. Living with secured borders, living with any number of other trusted but verified breaks in battle. But living in peace, that 60s dream of little children growing up healthy and free to be you and me, is out of date and out of fashion.
You’ll forgive me a moment of nostalgia for the moment when two superpowers agree to lay down their most planet-threatening weapons. Things were simpler then, I know. It still seemed as if war would be an unavoidable sometime thing. And in between, it seemed, there might be comity and coexistence, varying degrees of international harmony, acceptance, cooperation.
I know--that time is long gone. Now Pete Seeger is gone and who is left to sing that song? Who dreams anymore that we shall live in peace?
Labels: peace, Pete Seeger