Tag Archives: Stevie Wonder

Higher Ground: Syria and Violence

2 Sep

SyriaI initially had a Labor Day story prepared, but scrapped it because the impending attack on Syria is sticking in my craw. I’m happy to share last year’s Labor Day story if you would rather read that.

I heard President Obama’s speech imploring congress to give the green light to attack Syria and I was left feeling forlorn and felt somewhat betrayed. I thought President Obama was going to be the President who would find a way to remove the United States from wars, yet we are still in Afghanistan. (“Never fight a land war in Asia” — thank you Princess Bride.) I thought this was the president who learned from history about the spoils of war — the great profit machine.

The President repeated the phrase “national security” in his speech, a verbal tic that was disturbingly Bush-y. Those words ring hollow when lives are at stake and no credible evidence shows any real risk to our country. Am I missing something? Can anyone tell me where this threat lies?

Of course I believe we need to offer some way to interrupt the violence and the people being killed via chemical warfare.  But do we have no other options aside from more violence, which has no guarantee of changing the overall system in place in Syria?  As with Iraq and Afghanistan, we know many civilian lives were lost. Are we still comfortable to simply call it “collateral damage?”

Have we asked the people of Syria if they want  help and how they envision what that help might look like?  Have explored the myriad options of what an intervention might look like, aside from violence?

Let us also look at the soldiers that will be sent and the disproportionate number of soldiers of color and lower socioeconomic status who will be fighting. When we lose these lives we also alter our political landscape — we continue to silence an already marginalized and disenfranchised population. Do we learn nothing from history?

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warrin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
I’m so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach the highest ground
Teachers keep on teachin’
Preachers keep on preachin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
Oh no
Lovers keep on lovin’
Believers keep on believin’
Sleepers just stop sleepin’
Cause it won’t be too long

You can hear Stevie Wonder perform this song  here.  I want to believe that people “keep on learnin'”and that we will stop warring, but there is little evidence of that thus far.  I would also add that when voices like John McCain and John Boehner are supporting an attack on Syria, it would seem prudent and wise to alter one’s plan of attack.

Black History Month 2012: Stevie Wonder

21 Feb

Today we honor and celebrate one of the most successful musicians of the rock era, Stevie Wonder. Stevland Hardaway Morris was born blind in Michigan in 1950. He signed with Motown records at the tender age of 11 and has stayed with the label for 50 years. During that time, his career has been virtually unparalleled as he has composed dozens of classic songs and racked up a huge number of hits on the pop and R&B charts.

When Billboard magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Hot 100 in 2008, Wonder was ranked #5 all-time, the highest ranking for an African-American performer. He has 65 hits, 27 in the Top 10 and nine going all the way to #1 (for a total of 21 weeks at the top). He’s also the 4th biggest performer on the R&B charts with 72 hits, 48 Top 10 and 19 #1s (second only to Aretha Franklin) spending 67 weeks at the top. Wonder has also won 22 Grammy Awards and numerous other musical accolades.

Throughout his career, Wonder has defied categorization and expectations, creating new sounds with each album and crafting lyrical and keyboard parts that challenge anyone else who attempts them. He helped revolutionize the use of synthesizers and electronic keyboards, making warm soungs from cold instruments. He has also used his fame to improve the world, pushing for civil rights (including an instrumental role in the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service). In 2009, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in recognition of his work.  You have to love our Stevie Wonder!  Just to be a bit self-indulgent here, I have to link to one of my favorites.

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