When it Comes to Politics Maybe We Should Leave it To the Poets

The next three weeks will be a welcome distraction for me.  I will not have full access to wifi or even the use of my phone.  I am really looking forward to this change.  I am hoping it will help reset my brain.

I will fully admit I have been consumed with social media since just before the election.  I have found it very difficult to pull myself away.  I have frittered away hours reading articles on Facebook, then double checking articles, then checking those articles and then somehow getting lost in other videos, essays, and any number of other less than worthwhile pursuits.  The minutia of social media has really been getting me down, not to mention making me less than productive.  Far too much of my time has been consumed in front of the light of soul sucking blue screens.

It needs to stop.

I just haven’t been able to do on my own.  Maybe cold turkey is the best possible cure.

So in addition to taking in some much needed vitamin D.  I have big lofty, happy goals of quality time with my favorite people in the whole world- my family.  We’ll take in some sights.  Learn some new things and enjoy each others company.  I also hope this time will keep my kiddos and spouse focused and un-plugged as well.  It will be nice to hang out with my parents as well.

I have set goals to hear more stories of their childhoods.  I feel I know very little, especially about my mom’s childhood.

Maybe my time away from the steady flow of political insanity will help me clear my head.  I must find a way to channel my frustration, anger and ideas in a productive manner.  The rabbit hole ride isn’t changing anything except my blood pressure.

So far the best thing I can say about the political journey we have been on is that I had a chance to revisit some poetry by Langston Hughes.  “Let America Be America Again”  says so much more than I could ever articulate.


Let America Be America Again

                                                                                                           by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Heard an interview about the play Thurgood on npr and it ended with this poem. This hope, this dream. This is what we need.

Play around on Poets.org if you need to find a little more humanity back in your life.

Also if you have suggestions on how you are dealing with the political onslaught on social media, feelings of political hopelessness? apathy?  a desire to change the world?  Let me know.  I want to make myself useful.


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