Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Fare thee well to much of who I was... I don't know if we will meet again.

Turloch O'Carolan, on his deathbed, wrote the great O'Carolin's Farewell to Music. I was trying to repair a broken link here, the link to the Letter From the Birmingham Jail, and in frustration just placed the whole letter here... and thought of my coming to the place I am in this month, a farewell to American Politics.

This week two dear dear people and good friends of mine were convicted by a jury in New York of crimes they did not commit. Conviction came in a courtroom filled with the fear that this nation has adopted in place of love of the bright dreams of patriots like Dr. King.

King's martyrdom was quite different than the martyrdom of my two friends. King died to move this nation towards something. They are facing the possibility of decades of their lives taken, placed in a box of hatred from which their words can be controlled, not to move towards something, but to end the process of America's journey towards liberty which began with the words, we hold these truths to be self evident.

Our land of self evident truths is buried beneath fear. So my farewell, is not a farewell to music, but a farewell to American politics. I fear that many of us live as a reaction to the hatred and base cruelty of the American state. They become a reaction... become, be... that reaction. It does me no good to be that reaction when we live in a land without hope of progressive change. Reaction often makes the old state anew.

Many friends will say, after years of activism, I have given in to fear and have become a coward. I can accept that accusation without an offer of defense. I do not think so. I believe that for me, it is time to live my convictions in the light and let America be, we are no longer family, this America and I. I cannot see myself tonight joining her martyrs from Lexington Green to the Courtroom where the Rosenburgs were murdered, or singing her songs in love or anger. As with that beautiful young man of my mind's eye, who stood in the light, apart from the Second World War and said, "No... I can't change the world, but I wont be changed by it..."

I do not join those who said to me, "don't associate our meeting with thy friend, she is a communist" nor do I join those who say, keep your head down and wait things out. No.
I maybe called to the words of the welsh song, the fortress of Owain Glyn Dwr, which says the walls of the fortress of Owain Glyn Dwr is the fireplace of your grandmother.

When others ask in anger what to do, I cannot tell them. I just turn away and turn back home to the gentler way. I cannot build an America of freedom and justice. I can live free and just, and try to keep out of the way of the madness which grips the world.

God grant us the strength to live well, and grant those gripped in madness sight to see the virtue of our ways, or grant them blindness to us as they hunt.

So, farewell to most of my songs, and hello again to the songs of my ancestors.

5 Comments:

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Lorcan,
I wonder whether the imprisonment of your friends is as different as you think from the martyrdom of Martin Luther King.

You say that "King died to move this nation toward something." Actually, of course, he lived to move the nation toward something. He died because someone didn't like it. But that didn't stop the movement or invalidate his life.

I think I know who one of the friends you are referring to is. If so, though her principles may differ from mine and probably yours in some respects, I think that like King she has lived to move the nation (and humanity at large) toward something good. One thing different between her case and King's is that she will continue to live. Prison may be part of a death-culture, but it is not quite death. It is a place where many people live. And - as George Fox told his Friends from jail when those Friends were being jailed by the thousands - "the truth can live in jails."

That said, maybe you're onto something with your perception that politics is not where it's at. Newton Garver wrote a fascinating Pendle Hill pamphlet about that which I think is on the web. I'll try to find it and post a link to it on my blog. (I say "I'll try" rather than I will, because I have more plans for my blog than I have time to fulfill them and I never know which ones will fall by the wayside.

Whatever kinds of songs you sing, I will look forward to hearing you sing them.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans
(Brooklyn Quaker)

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger bonnet said...

Yo! wassup with that shit? Don't give up man, be proud, innit? Plain, simple, respect, word, knowhatimsayin. The brothers are behind you dn't give up the fight. Thee may loose the fight today but theyz gonna lose it tommorow, my Friend. Peace in the middle east and plain in Amerika.

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger bonnet said...

Yo! wassup with that shit? Don't give up man, be proud, innit? Plain, simple, respect, word, knowhatimsayin. The brothers are behind you dn't give up the fight. Thee may loose the fight today but theyz gonna lose it tommorow, my Friend. Peace in the middle east and plain in Amerika.

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger bonnet said...

Yo! wassup with that shit? Don't give up man, be proud, innit? Plain, simple, respect, word, knowhatimsayin. The brothers are behind you dn't give up the fight. Thee may loose the fight today but theyz gonna lose it tommorow, my Friend. Peace in the middle east and plain in Amerika.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home