Friday, September 7, 2007

We Live in a Political World

I don’t claim to know enough or even all that much about politics. I know the basics of why I shouldn’t like this person or respect this organization, but when it comes to specifics, I’m left to buzz words and bits and pieces I’ve picked up along the line. Presidents and emperors and prime ministers are names to me that I know are important, but that doesn’t mean I know their biography or even, in many cases, if they’re an effective leader.

I spend a lot of time in the newspaper office at The New School, where many of my best friends also spend their time after or during classes. It’s also where I was first offered a glance of what a purple, Dough Boy-type drawing looks like while, only a few feet away, there’s a terrifying picture of John McCain looking like he’s ready to either give you a hug or tear your head off.

Many of the conversations in the office, especially between three specific people, inevitably lead towards politics the same way all mine seem to end in a Arrested Development quote or Dylan lyric. So, while they’re discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or discussing the economic crisis in South Africa, I go to the computer for or

I’ll listen to their talks and maybe add my two cents every so often, but mostly I listen or just drift away. It’s not that I don’t care about politics; it’s more that there are just other things that I’m more interested in. For the longest time, I was ashamed of myself for wanting to write about music for a living, but a thought clicked into my mind one day: Why should I care if what I love to do won’t have a huge affect upon the world? As I so often say to myself, especially about the three people mentioned above, I’ll let them save the world while I’ll entertain it.

Even better, yesterday at a Block Party for my school, I was walking along with my friends Hannah, Peter and Kayley. While going through and looking at the booths, Hannah and Peter saw someone they knew from the Students for a Democratic Party, so they went over there to chat. Kayley and I didn’t know the kid and while walking away, she said, “We could talk about politics for 30 minutes and come up with no conclusions, or we can go get a free Snapple which will solve the problem of quenching my thirst.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kayley.

Ok, now that I’ve got that non-diatribe out of the way, here’s not so much a list but the lyrics to one of my favorite political songs of all-time. It’s “Road to Peace” from Tom Waits’ Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, and it tells the story of a young kid, Abdel Mahdi (Shahmay), in Jerusalem who, along with others throughout the song, are killed for no reason instead of looking for the “road to peace.” Waits does more in this song than many, as much as it kills me to say it, newspapers could do with the same story, and that just goes to show how powerful of a songwriter he is.

Young Abdel Mahdi (Shahmay) was only 18 years old,
He was the youngest of nine children, never spent a night away from home.
And his mother held his photograph, opening the New York Times
To see the killing has intensified along the road to peace

There was a tall, thin boy with a whispy moustache disguised as an orthodox Jew
On a crowded bus in Jerusalem, some had survived World War Two
And the thunderous explosion blew out windows 200 yards away
With more retribution and seventeen dead along the road to peace

Now at King George Ave and Jaffa Road passengers boarded bus 14a
In the aisle next to the driver Abdel Mahdi (Shahmay)
And the last thing that he said on earth is "God is great and God is good"
And he blew them all to kingdom come upon the road to peace

Now in response to this another kiss of death was visited upon
Yasser Taha, Israel says is an Hamas senior militant
And Israel sent four choppers in, flames engulfed, tears wide open
And it killed his wife and his three year old child leaving only blackened skeletons

It's found his toddlers bottle and a pair of small shoes and they waved them in front of the cameras
But Israel says they did not know that his wife and child were in the car
There are roadblocks everywhere and only suffering on TV
Neither side will ever give up their smallest right along the road to peace

Israel launched it's latest campaign against Hamas on Tuesday
Two days later Hamas shot back and killed five Israeli soldiers
So thousands dead and wounded on both sides most of them middle eastern civilians
They fill the children full of hate to fight an old man's war and die upon the road to peace

"And this is our land we will fight with all our force" say the Palastinians and the Jews
Each side will cut off the hand of anyone who tries to stop the resistance
If the right eye offends thee then you must pluck it out
And Mahmoud Abbas said Sharon had been lost out along the road to peace

Once Kissinger said "we have no friends, America only has interests"
Now our president wants to be seen as a hero and he's hungry for re-election
But Bush is reluctant to risk his future in the fear of his political failures
So he plays chess at his desk and poses for the press 10,000 miles from the road to peace

In the video that they found at the home of Abdel Mahdi (Shahmay)
He held a Kalashnikov rifle and he spoke with a voice like a boy
He was an excellent student, he studied so hard, it was as if he had a future
He told his mother that he had a test that day out along the road to peace

The fundamentalist killing on both sides is standing in the path of peace
But tell me why are we arming the Israeli army with guns and tanks and bullets?
And if God is great and God is good why can't he change the hearts of men?
Well maybe God himself is lost and needs help
Maybe God himself he needs all of our help
Maybe God himself is lost and needs help
He's out upon the road to peace

Well maybe God himself is lost and needs help
Maybe God himself he needs all of our help
And he's lost upon the road to peace
And he's lost upon the road to peace
Out upon the road to peace.

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