Dreaming of a Better World

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jfk-John_F_Kennedy_MINE

My father never finished college but was a very accomplished and well-respected man.  He served 21 years in the United States Army, retiring a Chief Warrant Officer, grade III.  He grew up, one of nine, in the northern Mississippi delta country in grinding poverty.  His childhood was filled with work and privation.  

My father’s family were tenant farmers.  They didn’t even own the land they lived and worked on.  Theirs was a hardscrabble existence.  They plowed vast tracts of Mississippi Delta bottom land by mule, sowed the crops, chopped out the weeds, and harvested the results all by hand.  Their fortunes rose or fell with the weather and the vagaries of circumstance.

My-Plowing-Mules

When my father was eight or nine, someone stole their family cow.  This was a real tragedy as the survival of the youngest children (there were nine in all) depended on the milk from that cow, and the family was in no position to purchase a replacement.  The tragedy was only averted when someone took pity on the family and gave them a cow.

The family who donated the cow were not themselves well off by any measure, they just had an extra cow and enough compassion and charity in their hearts to give it away.

Let’s Drink to the Salt of the Earth

Like my father before me, I once dreamed of a better world for my children.  His dream came true – mine did not.  

The dreams of my generation began to turn sour 45 years ago when John F. Kennedy was taken from us by assassins.  This singular event began the great unraveling of the American Dream.

JFK-getryhw_An-End-to-War

What is this terrible perversity in our nature that leads us to kill those who would lift us up?  From the Nazarene to the Walrus, we have murdered our sages.  Instead of learning their lessons, we have killed our teachers.

My father handed off to me a dream full of promise and possibility.  The thought of what I am handing off to my son fills me with crazy sorrow.

JFK-Poetry_MINE

I was 11 when they shot JFK.  It’s hard to imagine, if you weren’t alive then, how shocking that was for us all.  It was unimaginable that someone would kill the president.  It was difficult to believe that anyone could be so evil.

But as history shows, people are capable of terrible evil.  That’s why we have laws.  And it is only by enforcing those laws that we can live in a world NOT dominated by evil men.

The road to our present sad state is paved with crimes gone unpunished.  If the crimes of the last 8 years go unpunished, it can only be said that we deserve what we get.

Be that as it may, I can’t help but mourn for my son’s future, and I don’t think I’ll ever shake this crazy sorrow.

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    • OPOL on November 23, 2008 at 9:54 pm
      Author
    • Robyn on November 23, 2008 at 11:25 pm
    Art Link

    Land

    For John

    I was 12.

    We were afraid.

    You gave us hope.

    I was 15.

    We were still afraid.

    Mrs. West collapsed

    in front of us

    in Latin class

    my sophomore year.

    It was profound.

    I am 57.

    We have other fears.

    We have not found

    another like you.

    But we still hope.

    We hold

    a candle

    for you.

    –Robyn Elaine Serven

    –November 22, 2005

  1. According to my father there was nothing easy about this sort of work.

    I often think that the US would be entirely different if one day in July when were were in our teens, each and every one of us was given a hoe and told to spend four hours chopping cotton in Itta Bena or Sharkey or Humphreys Counties.  It wouldn’t be made into a big deal.  Just something to be done, to be experienced.  Maybe then we’d get it.  We’d have a physical understanding of it.  We’d understand about work and families and the promise of a real future.  We’d understand loss.  We’d understand struggle.  And we’d understand justice.

    I’m not betting on this happening any time soon.  And we’re poorer for that.

    • Edger on November 23, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Our teacher sent us home, and told us to run if we saw any bombers.

    She had said the same thing during the missile crisis…


  2. But as history shows, people are capable of terrible evil.  That’s why we have laws.  And it is only by enforcing those laws that we can live in a world NOT dominated by evil men.

    And we are responsible for the younger generation’s future, and I mourn that with you, while hoping we can turn it around.

    • Viet71 on November 24, 2008 at 12:40 am

    was killed by insiders.

    The cover-up continues.

    • US Blues on November 24, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Their future may not be filled with the material abundance (excess) we’ve enjoyed, but I pray that it is a world of far less spiritual emptiness than the one we were born into.

    fwiw- I was born on JFK’s birthday the year he was elected, I was 3 when he was killed.

  3. I so wish I had your remarkable gift. Even your prose is poetry.  

    • Edger on November 24, 2008 at 2:28 am

    through a Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, to “forgive” John Lennon for saying in 1966 that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, according to a BBC News article today.

    How nice of them.

    “The paper dismissed Lennon’s much-criticised remark that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ as a youthful joke.”

    The Vatican has not yet asked for forgiveness for it’s condemnation of Lennon, however.

    I’m still dreaming of a better world too, OPOL. 🙂

  4. ones who tried to establish a better world and along with these leaders including John Lennon they tried to stop the real dream, and took us all on their nightmare ride of Super Power. Why are we so afraid to hope and evolve?  

    “We became a nation of homicidal dreamers, murderous dreamers” … Russell Banks.

    Lets hope the dreamers of peace and justice and brotherhood are back. It is really up to us what we leave as ancestors  to those who come after. The choice is always there, we are a nation of dreamers, our qualities can be used for good. Time to start the long journey back to the dreams that lift humanity and the world to a better place for all. Thanks as always OPAL.  

     

    • Bikemom on November 24, 2008 at 3:46 am

    Your video made me tear up – and I tend to be a bit stony in that respect.  Your son’s eyes are wide open, and he seems to embrace the future – please don’t worry for him.  I am pessimistic these days as well, but looking at the big picture, humans are becoming more civilized (do you think that Genghis Khan or Henry VIII would have settled for a cold war?).

    How are you?

  5. Your video was so real and moving — fought the tears!

    Yes, it seems that the good and well meaning in our history have always been assassinated.  How do we prevent this?  How do we rid ourselves of such overwhelming evil that we have seen and know?  

    I think the answer is “courage” — courage enough for a Congress, for example, to collectively say, “NO.”  To listen to the voices of THE PEOPLE AND THEIR COURAGE!  There has to be a way to overcome ALL that would tear us down for sociopathological greed.  There has to be a way!

    Thanks, again!

    • RUKind on November 24, 2008 at 8:39 am

    just south of Boston. It was sunny in the classroom and the sister said someone had shot the president. I still remember the moment of cognitive dissonance, thinking it was the student class president but why would someone shoot him? And then it hit me and we were praying.

    Being raised Irish-Catholic it was huge blow. To get one of our own into the presidency had been such a huge validation of our people and our history and our religion. It was a multi-generational effort to get us to the point of being accepted as equal. We had a seat at the table at last. It hurt beyond hurt to see him go. To see all that promise of a better world just gone so suddenly.

    Rose Kennedy raised her children well. They’ve all been there always pulling for the common good She blessed us with three of the best.

    Teddy passed the family baton to Barack this year.He’s going to need a lot of help and prayers to keep this thing going.

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing too complicated about those goals.

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