A-Mus­ings

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

When will they ever learn?

In 1955 Pete Seeger wrote the first three verses of one of the most fa­mil­iar folk songs, Where have all the flow­ers gone? The fi­nal two verses were added in 1960 by Joe Hick­er­son, who made it a “cir­cu­lar” song, re­turn­ing in the end to the flow­ers that were long gone. Seeger was a leg­end in his own time, a mu­si­cian, song­writer and song col­lec­tor-his­to­rian who helped spur the po­lit­i­cally tinged folk music re­vival of the '50s and '60s, spoke out against the Viet­nam War and re­mained an ac­tivist to the end, no­tably on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Seeger's roots reach back to the time be­fore the Bea­tles, Rolling Stones, Byrds, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dy­lan, to name a few. Pete, whose father was a paci­fist mu­si­col­o­gist, stud­ied so­ci­ol­ogy for a while at Har­vard be­fore drop­ping out to spend the sum­mer cy­cling through New Eng­land, paint­ing wa­ter­colours of farmers' houses in re­turn for food. Fail­ing to get a job as a news­pa­per re­porter, he worked at the Ar­chives of Amer­i­can Folk Music in Washington. In 1942, the Army sent him to the Western Pa­cific. In 1950, he formed The Weavers, a group that be­came the first com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful folk group, sell­ing 4 mil­lion records in two years be­fore the House Un-Amer­i­can Ac­tiv­i­ties Com­mit­tee black­listed them in 1952, pre­vent­ing them from record­ing or ap­pear­ing on ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

In 1955 dur­ing the “Red Scare,” HUAC sub­poe­naed Pete to ap­pear be­fore them. In the hear­ings, he re­fused to dis­close his po­lit­i­cal views and the names of his po­lit­i­cal as­so­ci­ates. In­stead he replied, “I am say­ing vol­un­tar­ily that I have sung for al­most ev­ery re­li­gious group in the coun­try, from Jewish and Catholic, and Pres­by­te­rian and Holy Rollers and Re­vival Churches. I have sung for many dif­fer­ent groups over the twenty years or so that I have sung around these fortyeight states.” He was sen­tenced to one year in jail but suc­cess­fully ap­pealed the de­ci­sion after spend­ing only four days be­hind bars.

There­after, Pete be­gan tour­ing, in­spir­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cians. He cre­ated many pop­u­lar folk re­vival songs, in­clud­ing If I Had a Ham­mer. He used Old Tes­ta­ment ref­er­ences and Welsh poet Idris Davies for lyrics in songs such as Turn, Turn, Turn and The Bells of Rhum­ney. A leader in the peace and civil rights move­ments, Pete recorded We Shall Over­come and sang it on the 50-mile walk from Selma to Mont­gomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1,000 other marchers. That song went on to be­come the an­them for the civil rights move­ment and was trans­lated into many lan­guages.

Where am I go­ing with all this? I am not sure. I have been off-is­land for over a year and am ex­tremely grat­i­fied at meet­ing many, even per­fect strangers, who ask me where I have been and seem gen­uinely happy to have me back. My own feel­ings are mixed. Naively, I had ex­pected some change at least. After Kenny re­gained power in 2011, the cit­i­zens of this na­tion, the ma­jor­ity of whom had en­joyed Tom Chou's ex­tended tour of duty here, had to suf­fer through a year of frankly id­i­otic vac­il­la­tion by the new leader while he pon­dered on the choice be­tween China and Tai­wan even though the whole world knew the two coun­tries had reached an agree­ment not to poach each other's al­lies. China was never go­ing to re­place Tai­wan in Saint Lu­cia, but Our Leader in his in­fi­nite wis­dom failed to grasp this el­e­men­tary truth and in­sulted our most re­li­able bene­fac­tor by his piti­ful com­mu­nist dal­liance.

And now, in 2017, it seems, noth­ing has changed. Un­grate­ful id­iocy is no re­specter of colour, for the reemer­gence of Yel­low, (which is Tom's favourite colour be­cause his mother once gave him a yel­low sweater as a child, a fact that en­raged Kenny and prompted him to com­plain to the Tai­wanese gov­ern­ment) has not her­alded any change. Apparently the coun­try is so awash with funds and riches that more than three months into 2017, not a cent of the mil­lions of dol­lars in Tai­wanese aid has been touched or even re­quested be­cause our two lead­ers, the Ter­ri­ble Twins, do not want to ac­cept the prof­fered Tai­wanese riches for fear of com­pro­mis­ing their chances of re­turn­ing the evil clutches of Main­land China, de­spite the wishes of the ma­jor­ity of the Cab­i­net that sup­ports Tai­wan.

Tai­wan re­mains a stead­fast, re­li­able ally that al­lows us to live our own way of life, build our own projects, keep our in­de­pen­dence, while qui­etly go­ing about the busi­ness of be­ing a benev­o­lent ally bound by friend­ship, mu­tual re­spect and sup­port. With Tai­wan by our side no one need fear an in­flux of Chi­nese labour and an­ti­quated labour prac­tices rem­i­nis­cent of the days of slav­ery. Tai­wanese-sup­ported projects pro­vide work for Saintt Lu­cians who pay Saint Lu­cian taxes and spend their money in Saintt Lu­cia.

Where have all the young men (and women) gone, long time pass­ing? When will they ever learn to stand up for their rights and de­mand that our lead­ers act with com­mon de­cency to­wards our friends?

It is time to rise in protest!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.