On The Wheels of a Dream

Monday, October 24, 2016

This past week Mr. Robinson took me to the grand opening of the new Eccles Theater in downtown. Gussied up, in our black tie formal wear we had an evening of lovely performances. One song, sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell struck such a chord with me that I have found myself pondering with great assurance on it's message. The song, as I'm sure you to are now wondering was On the Wheels of  a Dream from Ragtime. It's a show stopper for sure, the goose bumps, hair standing on end kind.

Before you continue if you've never heard it or just need a refresher here it is sung by the stunning Audra McDonald and of course Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Ragtime is set at the turn of the 20th century. It captures the compelling American experience through three diverse families in pursuit of the American dream. It touches on inherent American realities prevalent in a melting pot such as America. Experiences of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair. Over the course of the show, the worlds of White, Immigrant and African Americans intertwine as they discover the surprising interconnections of the human heart, the limitations of justice and the unsettling consequences when dreams are permanently deferred.

The poignancy of it's topics were not lost on me especially in relation to our current political election and recent social disquietude over race and equality.

Every where I look it seems like I'm being bombarded by political agenda and not the kind that makes me want to say I'm proud to be an American.  If your voting for Hillary your a shady, unethical, snake and if your voting for Trump your a stupid, sexist, bigot.  
I'm not writing this to sway your vote or call you mean names for supporting your candidate of choice. No the bigger concern is where has that great land that I love gone? Where have the good people who gave their lives for freedom, equality and goodness gone? Where have the presidential candidates who were hardworking, smart and honest gone. We are fighting over(in my opinion) the dregs of presidential candidates, chauvinistic, deceptive, disrespectful, obnoxious, corrupt and immoral, words that when polled, Americans used to describe the candidates running to represent and lead our country.  
Now I'm no CEO but I'm pretty sure that if any of those words where found on a resume the candidate would not get the job and yet here we sit stuck between a rock and hard place. I'm not sure if I should be more disappointed in the candidates, the fact that we have so little respect for our potential commander in chief that we call them Bitch and Douche Bag or for the simple fact that we voted for them. How have we gotten so lost? 

Perhaps you remember Monica Lewinsky?

She recently gave a Ted talk on The Price Of Shame. A fantastic narrative about the consequences of cruelty, judgment and social bullying bolstered by the power of the Internet and media. Watch it really, it's not a waste of time.

I don't think it's a stretch to conclude that riding the wave of Internet gossip, judgment and  consequence-less trolling has led to Americans to be less compassionate, cruel, dishonest and heartless.  Consequences which aren't just personally damaging but now I believe are effecting so many aspects or our lives, politics, equality, trade, economy, business. 

What we need now is more than promises for a giant wall to separate us from Mexico or to tax the living daylight out of the "1%, wall street and big corporations", things that may or may not happen. No, what we need are Good Americans, Kind Americans, Trustworthy Americans, Hardworking Americans.  No matter who wins in November there will on the flip side be a loser a losing candidate, a losing group of supporters and probably a whole bunch of us in the middle who can't tell if anything was won or lost. But what if no matter the outcome we decide as a society to make a positive change.

The Story of the Iron Wedge
“The ice storm that winter wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. … Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.
“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer who now inhabited the property on which it stood was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. …
“On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings, which the lad found in the south pasture.  (A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledge hammer to widen the cut.)
Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.
“He truly meant to, but he never did. The wedge was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. … Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.
“In the chill silence of that wintry night … one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.
“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. …
“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”

Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, win or lose, we are at a crossroads one where we can pass on to future generations the grievances and the anger of our time. Or we could band together, purge our hidden wedges lift up and strengthen each other, keep rolling on the wheels of a dream, our American dreams.  Let's stop fighting with each other and start fighting for something worth fighting over.  Freedom, faith, family, forgiveness, future. OUR FUTURE.

"Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From ev'ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

...Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free..."

Now that's something worth fighting for. 

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