Bird Droppings April 21, 2020
Pondering and thinking about the lyrics from an old friend
Back in the “normal” days, I stood in line behind a young man in his mid-thirties and I assume his wife at a BBQ place at Stone Mountain Park. I know we can argue it is a memorial to the south carved on a mountain. I am a history buff of all kinds. I enjoy history and I enjoy the philosophy behind it. I read a line that “when people claim their heritage they are called racist”. I go back to two folks I was behind at the BBQ place. Both had confederate battle flags emblazoned on their t-shirts. Both shirts indicated the south was going to rise again we are proud of our heritage. Then I read this note actually the first two paragraphs of an essay going into more detail.
“For the past 150-some years, while the Confederate battle flag has monopolized attention with its corrosive symbolism and inflammatory bluster, a different, largely unknown Confederate flag — the Confederate Flag of Truce, which the South used in the process of surrendering to the North — has been quietly waiting for its moment in the spotlight. That moment is now. Hoping to start a new conversation around the Civil War artifact, textile and social practice artist Sonya Clark has conceived a massive version of the Flag of Truce, measuring 15 by 30 feet — 10 times the size of the original flag.” Meredith Mendelsohn, CNN
So, I am sitting here pondering a flag of truce. Truce is peace. A battle flag has a difficult time being anything close to peaceful. Just some food for thought. A great lead in to my friend. I have been in the same room I should say concert hall many times listening to his music. I have heard nearly every song he has written. Not all but almost all. He and I share epilepsy and work with disabled children and adults. So maybe indirectly we are friends.
I first started listening to Neil Young’s music in 1966 or so possibly even earlier if you count Buffalo Springfield, a short-lived band and of course 1968 with Crosby Stills, Nash and Young at Woodstock and Deja vu, their first album which I am sitting here listening too. While I did not make it to Woodstock I can say my old sleeping bag was there, a good friend at the time borrowed it. When I made my way south into the land of The Allman Brothers band, in the fall of 1971, on my way to Florida, the flower petals were still in the streets from Dwayne Allman’s funeral a month past, music and lyrics had become a part of who I was.
I was reading on line last night and I recalled a friend on line used to list the songs of Neil Young on her website. I responded to her so many years ago with a note that I did not think anyone under fifty had ever heard of Neil Young. I should say outside of my house; my kids grew up with Neil Young. Several years ago, Neil Young had a medical crisis and a sort of mid-life crisis all about the same time. After finding he had an aneurysm in his brain, he decided that he needed to record immediately sort of just in case. As life goes he was afraid this might be his last CD. He took it upon himself from being warned he needed surgery immediately and postponing for a week to write and produce an entire CD, Prairie Wind. A few days after leaving the hospital from successful surgery on the brain aneurism, the spot on his leg where the catheter had been inserted broke open and he collapsed outside his hotel, nearly dying from blood loss.
The words to this song caught my attention many times but especially this morning, a questioning of who and why we are. Several of my friends and I have been discussing freedom in general, free choice, student choice and other great philosophical topics in our blogs and on line discussions which perhaps led me to this today. The title of the song is, When God made me, by Neil Young.
“Was he thinkin’ about my country or the color of my skin? Was he thinkin’ ’bout my religion and the way I worshipped him? Did he create just me in his image or every living thing? Was he planning only for believers or for those who just have faith? Did he envision all the wars that were fought in his name? Did he say there was only one way to be close to him? Did he give me the gift of love to say who I could choose? Did he give me the gift of voice so some could silence me? Did he give me the gift of vision not knowing what I might see? Did he give me the gift of compassion to help my fellow man?” Neil young, When God made me, Prairie Wind
I walked out into the stillness of the morning earlier today. It has been raining quite a bit lately so the pollen has been washed away. There was a lone bird I think one that was mixed up on its timing and weather (I wonder does anyone give the daylight savings time to nature). Maybe the bird was still adjusting or maybe migrating in from another time zone, might have been a Yankee bird as a friend would have told me. But here nearby singing all alone deep in the woods is a single bird. I like days a hint of green and the lace work of twigs and opening buds provide a great background for thought, everything smells so good with rain and sounds so new in spring. Perhaps early morning even with houses going up will still be quiet.
Thinking back a year or two to coming back to school after a spring break and now today back to work on my computer on our fifth week of online teaching, it always amazes me. This year there will not be any students with T-shirts from Panama City Florida air brushed with a boyfriend’s name and or girlfriend’s name and various partying information and or connotations maybe parents should not know about, and of course tan unless in the back yard. There will not be a lot of shell jewelry and then there is the other reality many students are still asleep from staying in bed. It is so difficult to get started the week or so after spring break even when it is on a computer. I offered to an administrator why not start back on a Tuesday instead of Monday and we both agreed we could all use that one extra day. Neil Young to the rescue.
“Did he give me the gift of compassion to help my fellow man?” Neil Young
Funny, how a line sticks with you in a song or poem or book. I keep thinking about this line yesterday. Between oil spills, getting tough on North Korea and as always, the breaking news today computers at IRS broke down, a leak from a Washington reporter in 2009 that started numerous political dramas, all seem insignificant now, over 38176 falsehoods or lie’s since starting the current presidency, a smiling first lady and controversy over renaming Mar Go Largo the Southern White House. Some want to blame China or Democratic governors or whomever is next on blame list. I wonder if the word compassion ever made it into Washington.
I was walking through a Wal-Mart a few days back with my mask in place, sort of the entire world at a glance; everyone ends up in Wal-Mart. One of my former students came in he was all excited he had just gotten a job there. But as I walked through the Wal-Mart an employee near the pharmacy was explaining the new Medicare drug plan to an elderly person. They actually had a booth set up with a fulltime staff person. They are to be helping elderly folks and they need to have people telling them what is going on since most people including myself haven’t a clue. Ironic and they wonder why so many people haven’t joined up yet the line is too long at the explanation booth.
Compassion is such a simple word. It has been several years since I did work with indigents finding housing and food for families. I recall several bits of wisdom coming from Washington, for example cutting off welfare if a person was not looking for a job. A favorite is if you fail a drug test no more welfare. If you are homeless by choice you are off of welfare, that one sort of floored me. It had to do with issues of not paying taxes by one person somewhere in Texas who found he could save money being homeless. Another was if income was too high cut out Medicaid.
Cutting health care was always one that intrigued me. I worked with a fellow who had worked all his life till a massive heart attack disabled him and he was limited to drawing disability. His wife due to illnesses all of her life had never worked enough combined quarters to draw anything more than a minimum disability check. I find it so interesting that anyone can even consider we do not need health care reform. Unfortunately, between them their medical bills exceeded their monthly government disability checks and because their income exceeded federal standards they did not get Medicaid. In a compromise they took turns each month on which medicines to not get. They were getting help from one agency but doctors had to fill in paper work literally volumes each month for them to receive free medicines. Sadly eventually the doctor’s office stopped filling in the paperwork for them. Compassion is such a powerful word.
What of a disabled man I worked with for several years who lived on about 350.00 per week. He is a severe diabetic and has numerous other health and psychological related issues and virtually spends a week in the hospital a month. However, his monthly disability income keeps him from Medicaid and so he moves periodically to avoid harassment and bill collectors from hospitals. Having a quality of life is that compassion? Are we helping our fellow man? As I watch what we do worldwide as a nation I seriously wonder sometimes. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)