Making the Most People Happy: Why We Must Discuss the Darkness

18 Dec

There are days that I just want to hide from the news. Sometimes paying attention to the world is so painful that I wonder why I bother. Since the Shrub was appointed President in 2000, I’ve become increasingly engaged with news and politics, believing firmly that knowledge is power and that understanding your opposition is the only way to overcome it. Since Michael started this blog, I’ve found myself digging even deeper, trying to find the most interesting and imporant items to share.

It’s a mixed bag, to be sure. Watching the exact moment that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell passed its final procedural hurdle finally made it worth reading all the hateful insanity from John McCain. The horrible tax compromise passed, but none of Oregon’s Democrats in congress voted for it. Still, some days it seems tempting to crawl into bed and watch every episode of Waiting for God rather than researching the Smithsonian’s censorship to make sure people are aware of the issue.

Driving to work yesterday, I listened to a favorite song that reminded me why it’s worth the effort.  Dick Gaughan, a brilliant and sadly overlooked folk singer, wrote a song that clearly lays out why we have to pay attention to what’s wrong with the world and, more importantly, report it. Read all the lyrics; they apply on so many levels.

A Different Kind of Love Song, by Dick Gaughan

You ask me why I sing no love songs
You say the songs that I sing make you angry and sad
You say that you listen to music
To escape from the things that make you feel bad

You say that all that I sing of is trouble
And that doesn’t entertain you
You say that I should be trying to make people happy
Well, strange as it seems, that’s just what I’m trying to do

I could close my eyes to the suffering
I could switch off my mind and sing pretty songs
I could close my ears to the crying
I could sing, take the money and run

But that wouldn’t help those in trouble
That wouldn’t help make their pain disappear
And the homeless, the workless, the hopeless and helpless
Wouldn’t be any happier, would still live in fear

So I’ll keep trying to make people happy
I’ll keep trying in the best way I know how
And for me to help make the most people happy
I must make you even more sad and angry now

So you see where you misunderstand me
If you listen again then you might even find
All the songs that I sing are love songs
But their love is a different kind

You can listen to a live performance of the song on his website.

We must certainly make time for fun and joy every day. But we cannot do so at the expense of shining a bright light on what’s wrong with our world and insisting that everyone step up and change it.

3 Responses to “Making the Most People Happy: Why We Must Discuss the Darkness”

  1. webwordwarrior January 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Wonderful post. It can be hard to stay engaged sometimes, but it is SO important. Very inspiring words from the great Dick Gaughan, too. I’m partial to a line from Bruce Cockburn that I think applies here: “We have to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.” Keep kicking!


  1. Song of the Day, May 17: A Different Kind of Love Song by Dick Gaughan | Music and Meaning: The RBHS Jukebox - July 6, 2013

    […] song compelled me to write a post about civic and political engagement on my husband’s blog, The Solipsistic Me. Please enjoy […]

  2. Album of the Week, March 27: Robert’s Desert Island Discs | Music and Meaning: The RBHS Jukebox - March 27, 2016

    […] heart beating at its core. The title track sums things up brilliantly, and inspired me to write an essay for Michael’s blog on the importance of looking at the darkness if we want to get to the […]

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