The Avett Brothers, who rank alongside Ben Folds, Jim Croce, and Harry Chapin with their ability to tell a story, wrote a song titled Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise. It describes many of my thoughts as I look across the landscape of our culture and recognize a certain darkness as opposing forces see life through very different lens’. It’s as close to a thoughtful protest ballad, ala 60’s Dylan, that I’ve heard in quite a while.
“…There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it …”
I seriously doubt the Avett Brothers have a 55 year old white guy demographic in mind when they compose music but their profound lyrics have me reflecting on what’s happening in our country and in our world. These days it seems up is down and down is up. There are instances when I don’t recognize my own country, our culture, politics, government, and our place in the world community.
I do feel as though I’m in the dark with my eyes wide open while watching seemingly irrational social transformation taking place, personal wealth being transferred without regard for those who created the wealth, time tested principles of process being cast aside in lieu of expediency, fiscal restraint ignored, and common sense being drowned out by ideological rhetoric. And then I’m told I’ll have to wait to read ‘…in the fine print what’s wrong and what’s right’. It’s all so matter of fact, so organized and well thought out … so ‘black and white’ . How could I be so contrarian not to agree?
I truly am ‘frightened by those that don’t see’ what’s being done. Those needing their hourly Facebook fixes, daily episodes of Inside Edition, and weekly doses of People likely don’t have a clue as to what is happening ‘of substance’ to their world. Then I recognize those of like mind that write, speak, and blog their discontent only to see their thoughts and pleadings ignored, marginalized, or twisted by the powerful.
“…When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it…”
When did we become a country where everybody is a special interest demanding extra consideration? When did it happen that someone should deserve something they never earned? I lament the disintegration of truth and honor in our society. Lying has become categorized into small, white, hyperbole, or simply a misunderstanding in an attempt to normalize our pathological misbehavior. And unfortunately it isn’t just the social rogues doing the lying anymore; we have come to expect from all stations of our culture.
But it isn’t all bad as the ‘20-something’ songwriters out muscles their dismay with a call for personal responsibility and self determination. This gives me hope especially coming from a generation that hasn’t lent very much confidence in terms of their willingness to think in these terms.
We’re in a bad spot right now, we all see it. My own head is full of doubt and I’m losing my ability to see ahead to a road full of promise. In the midst of acute environmental, economic, and unemployment issues juxtaposed next to wars on two fronts, every day is marked with a newly generated, self inflicted crisis or villain. It would be comforting, if not therapeutic for our country (especially it’s producers) if our leaders would cease with the tough talks and spankings, and begin encouraging while offering responsible solutions for ‘change’ and bona fide reasons for ‘hope’.