Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Still, Small Voice

January 19, 2009

Radio playing a favorite Bob Franke song of mine:

In a still, small voice in the middle of the night
brother Martin heard the simple truth,
And he followed its pleading,
though it led to a crossroads parting
in the days of my youth.
From the heart of my city came a single scream,
and I heard it through all the white noise.
And the papers told me that they killed the dream,
but they never killed the still, small voice.

Every society, so the saying goes, honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers. This society is still ambivalent about honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and I say: Good. That says this society hasn't managed to control, contain, and sanitize the man.

Radio's been playing excerpts from King speeches during the day. Driving from one barn to another I heard one about civil disobedience that I'd never heard before. King said that maybe if civil disobedience had been used as Hitler was trying to come to power, maybe the Nazis could have been kept out of power and six million Jews and millions of other people wouldn't have died. (Can't find the cite or the text, but I'm looking. Help!)

Earlier in the day, strange to tell, I'd been thinking about Nazis, and especially about the Nuremberg trials. The mere idea that the miscreants of the Bush administration might not be called to account really pisses me off, and the idea that they might get a bye because calling them to account means living in the past -- well, this makes me livid. I posted this, in a slightly different version, to another board:

I was thinking, "Oh yeah, right -- like after the Nazis were defeated, who argued that trying the perps was just looking backward or wallowing in the past?" Among the reasons for holding the Nuremberg trials was this: "To examine HOW these crimes were able to be committed."

And you know what? I think this is why congressional Democrats want to get all lovey-dovey and "let bygones be bygones." Because the failures of the Bush administration (hell, the failures of the last nearly thirty years) are symptoms of other failures: Who lay down and played dead while all this was going on? The list is long, long, long, but the congressional Dems and the Democratic Party (including the Clinton administration) are up near the top, because they had more power than most of us to find out what was going on and take the lead in stopping it. Why didn't they? Was the SS holding a gun to their heads?

The mass media come a bit further down on my list: they had the power to find out and take the lead, but none of them ever took an oath to uphold the Constitution, so they -- unlike elected and appointed federal officials -- were under no legal obligation to do the right thing.

All my life I've heard USians sniggering at the Germans for "just following orders." The U.S. mantra is probably closer to "I have to make a living, don't I?" Here's hoping that sixty or seventy years from now it sounds just as lame as "I was just following orders."

Bob Franke sings:

Oh, the lies come at you in a million ways,
some you hear and some you tell yourself,
And they say that virtue is a pile of gold
and that weapons are a nation's wealth,
But when kings stand naked in their ugly schemes
will the poor of this world rejoice?
Will they sell their children down a bloody stream
or will they listen to a still, small voice?

My still, small voice whispered, "Martha Luther King! Martha's Luther King!"

Where is Martha's Vineyard's Martin Luther King? Where is the brave soul who will remind us that our wealth doesn't lie in our property values? When will we stop selling our children and ourselves down that bloody stream?

How many those of dancing at tomorrow's inaugural balls will be owners of second, third, and fourth homes on Martha's Vineyard? And how many are assuming that Barack Obama is one of them, when I and a few million others are hoping he's one of us?


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