Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

The times today are uncertain enough. Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) just died, and with her died some of our idealism for those of us who come from the 1960s. We thought that we understood what the world needed, and we have failed completely to create the world we wanted.

Almost 50 years ago Bob Dylan wrote these words (Bob Dylan 1963):
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

If the times have changed, they have not become more clear or certain. Rather, they continue as twisted and confusing as ever.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

It is not clear to me that the time has yet come to speak. Winners and losers from my youth are still spinning. John Kennedy was a winner – maybe. Except that his legacy in the political corridors of Washington includes a bitter fight for control, currently in the debate (a word we use by courtesy) over some sort of national health care system. The debate threatens to consume American society, and there really is no predicting the loser or the winner.

In Canada, we have tried our own great social experiment with “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms”; but has it worked? You would have to be wise indeed to know the answer to that question, as the courts try to work out the balance between an individual’s right to privacy and the needs of the larger community. Certainly we struggle with our multicultural identity, and our world is still spinning.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

The battle outside today is economic, social, religious, political – so many battles that leave us feeling the full force of our uncertain times. We check our RRSPs and hope that our jobs don’t disappear. The idealism of the 1960s is but a memory, and the winds of change continue to rattle our windows and threaten our safety.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

Dylan was singing to his parents (and ours); but now we are the ones who don’t understand what’s happening to us. We thought that we were putting the forces of change in motion. In reality, we were caught up in forces much broader than ourselves, blowing not just through North America, but throughout the world. Afghanistan and Steinbach are part of the same world now.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

The dyads Dylan sets up end with one we recognize, pointing towards the end of all things when God brings in the true new world order. Whether we understood it or not in the 1960s, the uncertainty that we face in this world finds its resolution only in God.

1 comment:

KGMom said...

Thus it ever was.
The younger generation rails at the older generation.
I loved "The Times they are a-changing"--it was an anthem for my formative years in the 60s.
True, there are some times that seem to have more social ferment than others--such as the 60s.
Sadly, now we seem to have ferment but without the desire to better things.