We haven’t been trying to take your guns away for the last forty years. We’re just tired of people pointing them at kindergartners.
We don’t kill babies. We just don’t believe a teenager should have to carry her rapist’s child to term. Especially if that rapist is her father.
The enemy isn’t in grade school. And it’s not the liberals.
It’s the people telling you to be afraid. Of others. Of people that don’t worship the same way you do. Of gay people. Of people that don’t look like you. Or think like you. We’re not all the same. But we do all want mostly the same things. We want our families to be safe, our livelihoods to be secure. We want to believe that life on this earth can be good. That there’s beauty and love. That it isn’t all about “only the strongest survive”.
We can all pull together and make sure the “least of us” get to have the same quality of life as the most privileged of us. But we don’t get there by making those who have less than us pay a greater price than those of us who have been blessed with more.
I watch as the Senate of this great country debates who deserves to be supported in this time of crisis. I see Senators try to justify bailing out businesses that have shortchanged their employees for forty years. Businesses that have bought back their own stock in times of crisis to boost shareholder equity. Businesses that have increased the pay of their CEO’s and upper level management even as they cut payroll and terminated employees. And I wonder, who you gonna fuck now? There’s no one left. You’ve been screwing the little guy over since Reagan was in office. Maybe it’s time for you to take a “haircut” or, as happened in 1789, lose your head. I’m just a little on the fence here. Convince me that the latter isn’t the best decision. ’Cause I’m thinking we don’t have much to lose at this point.
Sincerely, Those of us who are tired of living under someone else’s boot.
Two thousand miles is a damn long motorcycle ride! Thirty years ago it was an adventure in overcoming physical limits, both for me and for a motorcycle built to race on a dirt track, not fly down the super slab with the throttle pinned to the stops. The bike and I both made it. And the memories are etched in my DNA. Sadly, that bike went to flat track heaven almost twenty years ago. I’m not easy on equipment. Horse people would derisively say that I ride ’em hard and put ’em away wet. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Bikes are tools, not living beings. I use stuff, and love people. People who get that backwards make me uncomfortable and not a little sad. Unfortunately, like almost everyone, I’ve known way too many.
Anyway, to celebrate my fifty-fourth birthday (and my impending retirement) I made a similar trip. The route was different. The timetable was different. Most of the people I set out to visit this time around weren’t even even born the last time I rolled through. The limits I had to face were more mental than physical. The bike, although also a dirt tracker (I guess I have a “type” when it comes to bikes too, who knew?), is much bigger, much faster and benefits by virtue of thirty years of technological advancement. Unlike that old Honda, which wore out both a chain and a rear tire on that first trip, I’m still riding this Harley every day as if last summer’s trip was a quick run to the grocery store.
One of my favorite activities is riding motorcycles. But, I think, the most significant insight I gained from this trip had nothing to do with bikes. It didn’t have anything to do with travel either. It came to me on the second day of the trip, when my eldest daughter took me and my granddaughter out for my birthday dinner. There was a saxophone player in the restaurant bar and we could hear him clearly from our table. Every time he’d start a riff, my granddaughter would would start shaking her shoulders and dancing in her seat. I would join her and we’d both break out in huge grins just feeling the freedom of the moment expressed in that wailing sax.
Music is creation’s universal language of life and love. The whales in the ocean, the birds in the trees, children, even before they can talk, make music. Every culture expresses itself through music. We bind ourselves together with it and often choose “our” song when we commit to another person. It can make a one year old come to know this old man sitting next to her in a restaurant as someone who loves her. Even if she only sees him once or twice a year.
A couple days later I would attend a little outdoor concert with a new friend. Coincidentally, much of the music played at that concert was written and first performed right around the time of that first motorcycle adventure. Life coming full circle? I don’t know, we both grew up with those sounds and today they help to make me feel like I still belong to the same culture. Even if so much of the world has changed, generations are still listening to the music of my youth. There’s a certain comfort in that. That first bike is gone, but the music remains. Like love, you can’t grab a handful of music and trade it for some other object. It’s ethereal and yet timeless. Long after all the “stuff” is gone, music and love will remain.
Sing a song (or write a poem) to those grandchildren. Leave them with something much more valuable than things. And change the world we live in, one kid at a time.