Monday, April 10, 2017

PLUS ÇA CHANGE...

(A French adage, in case it's new to you: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... The more things change--the more it's the same old, same old...)

I was watching the 2006 documentary, The US vs. John Lennon, the other night--a wonderful reminder of both the talent and the visionary genius of a man whose loss still haunts and saddens me. It's a reminder, too, of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the opposition to the Vietnam war, the young people's rebellion against the corporate and governmental powers that be. It seemed, at the time--and I was there, in the midst of it--a moment of such hope for a planetary paradigm shift in the earnest search for a new way of living together in "peace and love." 

And I thought about our situation today, about the new spirit surging in the country in opposition to Tr*mp and Tr*mpism, the spirit that was evident in the Women's March a couple of months back; and I hope will be evident again on April 15 in the nationwide Tax Day marches demanding the release of the president's tax information. 

Is it time, finally, for us to get past the obstacles that divide us and past the tired old solutions that have proved time and again to prove nothing? I'm reading a brilliant new book that sees "destructive global competition" at the root of all that plagues our vulnerable planet and seeks to replace its pernicious effects with the power of collaboration and co-operation. It's called The Simpol Solution, by John Bunzl and Nick Duffell, and I hope it's widely read. I'll be posting about it myself when I've finished reading it. 

Meantime, here's a brief boyhood memory written by my friend, the artist Sam Erenberg (please check out his website!), reminding us how things sometimes conspire to tantalize us with the prospect of change, but end up repeating themselves time and again. The yahoos, it seems, are always with us, with their prejudice and hatred...

Here's the image of a painting by Sam that I saw last time I visited his studio:

Sam Erenberg, Study for The Battle of Los Angeles No.3
acrylic, oil on canvas
20x16in.  
2015-17


MOTORCADE
by Sam Erenberg

In 1952, Adlai Stevenson, the former Governor of Illinois, was the Democratic Party’s candidate for President of the United States. Stevenson had the unenviable task of running against General Dwight
David Eisenhower, the WWII war hero and Republican nominee.


Our parents were liberals from Chicago and admired Stevenson, who was scheduled to give a speech in Los Angeles. He was met by his supporters at the airport, and they then formed a motorcade, a long line of cars that followed the candidtate’s limo, horns blasting.

As the line of cars slowed down at an intersection, supporters of Eisenhower on the street began to throw rocks and shout “dirty communitsts,” “traitors..."  The window shattered in the back seat of our car.

I was too young to understand the crowd’s anger, but afterwards, my parents tried to explain that Stevenson was not popular with most Americans; he was also an “intellectual,” a term often associated with Communism in many U.S. newspapers in the 1950s. 


It’s 2017 now, and not much has changed.

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