30 January 2017

And So Will We Yet

There is a Scottish drinking song written by Walter Watson (1780-1854) that I have now twice heard sung by Gordon Bok, Ed Trickett and Anna Mayo Muir entitled (in the Scottish) “Sae Will We Yet.” As with most drinking songs the lyrics vary from tavern to tavern and drinker to drinker. In these times a few drinking songs seem an appropriate accompaniment. In the version by these three I don’t have the sense that “So Will We Yet” is so much a drinking song as it is one of hope. But maybe that is what drinking songs are all about anyway!
     I think we live in terrible times. Donald Trump’s presidency is but a little more than a week old and the clouds of fascism move swiftly across our horizons. I awaken daily with a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach—some call my obsession displacement and some projection—but me, I call what I see fascism and I know it doesn’t come anywhere from within me. This week’s edicts eliminated United States aid to countries who offered birth control and abortion advice to the poor and needy; saw the confirmation of the beginning of the band of thieves who will serve in the Trump cabinet; witnessed a Presidential aide threaten the free press using language obscene and dangerous and even unconstitutional; issuance of an executive order mandating the building of a wall along the southern border of the United States and the closing of all US borders to Muslims from seven mostly Muslim countries whose refugees would be seeking asylum from oppression. However, Christian minorities from those countries will be granted exception. I recall that such was not the case for Jews escaping the horrors of Nazi Germany. The Jews then were turned away. Trump has closed the country to Muslims; after the Muslims, a friend lamented, “the Jews will be next.” All of Trump’s appointees are either Christian, white males or both!
     And so I have turned to the drinking song for some comfort. I have always felt calmed by the voices of Bok, Muir and Trickett. I have often quoted their version of Sydney Carter’s song “Julian of Norwich:” there they sing “all shall be well I’m telling you/all will be well again I know.” Today I have my doubts. I have turned to another song . . . The trio’s version of the old Scottish drinking song is entitled “And So Will We Yet.” And in this reign of Trump I make their song my invitation.
Come sit down beside us and give us your chat
Let the wind take the cares of this life off your back
For our hearts to despondency we never will submit
We’ve always been provided for and so will we yet . . .
     Some of us have been lucky. We’ve always been provided for and had rooms in which to sing. Some of us have helped provide for others. We have marched and sung together.
Come lift up your voices so hardy or frail
Enlighten up your hearts and enliven the tale
We will always be the merrier the longer that we sit
We’ve sung together many a’time and so will we yet. . .
But I am no longer certain that so will we yet. Oh, I do not think I or my friends will ever become homeless or even poor, but I am concerned about the integrity and freedoms of the future and for the future of the children—and not only that of my own daughters. The government power structure loaded as it is with hateful Republicans is such that there is little hope for much relief from their selfish oppression, and the present actions seem to portend only further repressive and dangerous measures for the future. I think we have voted away our democracy and abandoned the albeit flawed but revolutionary ethical principles on which the country was founded. Now, a fool sits in the White House who gives evidence of little awareness of either ethics or democracy, and he has surrounded himself with incompetent jesters who seem to care less. There is evil about the land and it resides in the White House. I despair. I hear the voices of hope:
And a song for you singers who keep your voices clear
Good health to you and happiness to all that you hold dear
For the world aa you would have it be, you sing with all your wit
And ease the work of providence and so will we yet . . .
     I know there are others like me out there; for most of my life we have sat and drank because we have had to always struggle. We always knew, as Dylan taught us, that we could only wish in vain that to live simply in that room once again where issues of right and wrong and black and white were clear to us.  We accepted that we would have always to struggle, even sometimes to effect change against our own idealism. With all apologies to Esau, Trump and his gang have stolen our birth right and made a cruel mockery of our lives, our culture, our history, and our ethical grounding in the Constitution and civil sense.
     And so for comfort I share what is no longer a drinking song but a urgent wish and call to community:
So lift up your noble hearts with laughter and song
And may your days be brighter and your nights not so long
For your joys were welcome here as woes you would forget
And when you wept we wept with you and so will we yet.


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