The Paul Zollo Blog, Volume 1: Faith Over Fear
“I don’t know a soul whose not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees…”
So goes Paul Simon’s “American Tune,” a song that, sadly, continues to resonate timelessly through our country. Presently I know of so many friends – musicians, artists, visionaries – who are hurting. Going through some kind of pain – physical, emotional, psychological. And of course, people are hurting financially more than ever – I know more than one elderly friend who has seen their nest eggs decimated and left in broken shells. But it’s more than the money thing – I think it has to do with the national drama we are all living through at this precipitous moment in our history – the Obama drama, if you will – set against the matrix of this horrific ongoing war, the capacious catalog of injustice, corruption, propaganda and inhumanity waged against America and the world by the Bush family – in addition to this financial crisis. And we see a probable future – we see the promise of this man, Barack Obama, a man dedicated to ethics and change – ascending to the presidency, and ushering in a brave new era in America. An era of hope. Of genuine change. Yet we have had our dreams stolen before. We’ve had the hope of a new era snatched from our grasp – and we watched, and we knew we won, and yet were unable to do anything. So like lovers with broken hearts, we are wary. We are careful. We are anxious.
And we’ve been through eight years with the equivalent of a mob boss at the helm of America.
And right now the choice is clear. There’s an old man banking his candidacy on his belief that Americans are stupid and afraid. And so he’s trying to use misinformation and fear-mongering to be elected. It’s all from the Bush-Rove-Cheney playbook – the belief system that echoes Lincoln’s truism that you can fool some of the people all of the time.
And there’s a young man – a man from the heartland – a man banking his candidacy on a radical new idea: that the American people are not stupid. That we have had more than enough of the old politics of hate and division. That we won’t be fooled again. And so at every turn, he has taken the high road. The high road that has so rarely been traveled down in American politics, as it often leads to obscurity or death. But this time – we believe, and we visualize – the high road will lead to victory.
So I believe until this period of living on the precipice – everyday slightly afraid and then relieved by the McCain attacks and Obama responses, our emotions and psyches juggled like oranges by the fluctuations of the national polls – is over, our lives will continue in turmoil. And where do we turn when we are overwhelmed, when we need to keep hope alive, when we want to embrace faith over fear – faith that good will prevail? We turn to music, often. We turn to songs which have brought us hope and solace for years. Music that engenders inspiration. If we are musicians, we turn to our guitars and pianos and other instruments. We write songs. We sing. We harmonize. Music can put into order the chaos that is life. Music gives hope to the hopeless. It gives direction to the aimless. It focuses on the meaning within the meaninglessness, the consequence over the inconsequential.
And now we must visualize triumph. For all those who have been preaching for years that Democrats don’t want “victory” in Iraq – while knowing full well or deluding themselves into ignoring the truth that victory is impossible in terms of the invasion and occupation of a country who never attacked or threatened us – we must now visualize genuine victory. A victory of good over evil. Of ethics over corruption. Of compassion over cruelty. Of intelligence over ignorance. Or truth over lies. Of faith over fear. Of Obama over McCain.
And although the level of political comedy will most likely diminish when Obama ascends to the presidency, America’s new golden age will begin, and we will dig ourselves gradually out of the trenches left by the former regime, and we will rebuild our cities, and reinvigorate our hearts and our souls. And music, as it always has, will thrive.