Friday, June 29, 2012

Democracy Is Coming to the USA

I don't often post music videos but this one from Leonard Cohen has haunted me for the past few days. As we enter a time of even more active political turmoil, I'd like to remind myself and others that "Democracy is coming to the USA."

 Of course, democracy is already here but it's also still coming.  One hundred years ago neither women not African Americans had the right to vote.  Sixty years ago, "separate but equal" was good enough for our children.  Forty years ago, young women were dying as the result of back-alley abortions.  Yesterday we took a step toward making health care available to the least powerful in our society.

Leonard Cohen, a Canadian, makes a powerful statement and tribute to his adopted country.  There are so many powerful words in this song that I've posted the lyrics below.  And, may we remember these particular words as we enter the political conversation leading up to the election:

and it's here the lonely say 
that the heart has got to open 
in a fundamental way: 


It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

1 comment:

  1. Nobody like Cohen.

    I was just saying to someone the other day how amazing it is to think of the timelines, that voting rights, women's rights, etc., have not been with us so very long. I so applaud the SupCt decision yesterday.