A Progressive Way to Celebrate July 4

Faced with July 4th celebrations that are focused on militarism, ultra-nationalism, and “bombs bursting in air,” many American families who do not share those values turn July 4th into another summer holiday focused on picnics, sports, and fireworks, while doing their best to avoid the dominant rhetoric and bombast.

This year that kind of celebration is particularly difficult when many of us are deeply upset as we watch our government escalating its policy of drones, still fighting a pointless war in Afghanistan, running elections in which only the super-rich or their allies stand a chance of being taken seriously by the corporate media, watching as the distance between rich and poor becomes ever wider, while education and social programs for the poor get defunded, the Supreme Court reaffirms the right of corporations to on donate without limit to political campaigns, the envirionment reaches beyond the tipping point and nobody even bothers to pretend that they are going to do something to epair the ecological crisis, and the government passes legislation that in effect does away with habaeus corpus and the right of people to a trial by their peers (by legislating life imprisonment without trial for anyone the government suspects of being a foreign operative, including US citizens), and disspirited by the lack of vision of the Democratic Party, and the dis-unity and nit-picking on the Left which seems to only know what it is against but has not yet developed a coherent vision of what it is for!  Oy.

"We the People Flag" from the World Savvy Global Youth Media and Arts Festival (FlickrCC/ekornblut)

That’s why we’ve developed a July 4th celebratory program that you can draw from (and songs–see the bottom of this note) to create for yourself and your friends and/or family a celebration that will have meaning to you. We wish to affirm what is good in America without ignoring its problems, and to affirm a vision of hope that transcends this moment in 2012 and its disappointments. And we can even celebrate that some people who didn’t have medical coverage will now, after the Supreme Court decision last week to allow the Obamacare plan to be implented, and before the Republicans find a way to eviscerate it, have that coverage–a concrete step towards “The Caring Society–Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Planet” that is the goal of the Network of Spiritual Progressives (which is also welcoming to atheists and agnostics and anyone else who wants a world based on love and generosity).

We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives believe that avoiding July 4 or turning it into nothing more than a picnic with friends is a mistake for progressives. There is much worth celebrating in American history that deserves attention on July 4th, despite the current depravity of those who lead this country, though the celebration-worthy aspects of our society are rarely the focus of the public events.

We also acknowledge that in the twenty-first century there is a pressing need to develop a new kind of consciousness — a recognition of the interdependence of everyone on the planet. A new revolution is necessary — one in which our actions reflect a realization that our well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet and of the planet itself.

We’ve designed the following material as a possible guide for individual families or for public celebrations that share the values we hold. We hope that families will reflect on the themes raised in this holiday guide at their celebrations, and that churches, synagogues, unions, community organizations, and neighborhood associations will incorporate this material into their public celebrations of July 4th.

This is the equivalent of a Passover Haggadah, the guide to doing a Passover Seder, only designed for an interfaith and secular humanist community like the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Please feel free to use any part of it or all of it–but also please urge your friends and family to join our Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org so we can afford to keep doing this kind of work!!!

Guide to a Communal or Family Celebration of July 4 Inter-Dependence Day

Celebrating What Is Good about the United States of America

(Go around your picnic table, or your July 4th gathering and have each person read a paragraph until everyone has been able to do so, and then repeat that process till you’ve read aloud through this whole thing. Feel free to cut, add, or in other ways change this approach.

Today hundreds of millions of Americans will celebrate all that is good in the history of the United States of America. Even though we know there is much to criticize about America (including the use of the word “America” as synonymous with the United States, thereby ignoring Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America) there is also much to celebrate.

Today we mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that still inspires many Americans today. We’re going to read the declaration aloud. As we do, listen for those ideas that you find inspiring or resonant or in some other way pertinent for our lives in twenty-first-century America.

Unfortunately, the high ideals expressed in the Declaration, “that all men are created equal and endowed with their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were not actually put into practice when the Constitution was created and the United States came into existence. The word “men” was applied not in a general sense to include women, but rather to only include men. And, in fact, for the first decades of our country, the only people who could vote were white men who owned property. Worse, slavery was permitted and African Americans were counted as 3/5 of a European American in the census, which determined how many people lived in a given area who deserved representation in the Congress. Native Americans — those who had survived the near genocide of European settlement — did not figure at all in these equations.

Some of these distortions got rectified through the democratic process that had been set up by the founders of our country. History books focus on the people who were in power as if all change comes from those in positions of authority. The truth is, though, that much of what we love about America was created by ordinary citizens. Often they encountered resistance from those in power; sometimes they found allies in power who joined in the struggle.

At this celebration, let’s give thanks for the ordinary and extraordinary Americans whose struggles brought about those changes. As I read each of the following, let’s enjoy a bite of food, raising our forks each time in celebration of their achievements!

To the waves of immigrants from all parts of the world who struggled to accept each other and find a place in this country.

To the escaped slaves and their allies — particularly Quakers, evangelical Christians, and freedom-loving secularists — who built the underground railroad and helped countless people to freedom.

To the coalitions of religious and secular people — women and men, black and white — who built popular support for the emancipation of the slaves.

To the African Americans and allies who went to prison, lost their livelihoods, and were savagely beaten in the struggle for civil rights.

To the working people who championed protections like the eight-hour day, minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and the right to organize, often at great personal cost to them.

To the immigrants who fought against “nativist” tendencies and refused to close the borders of this country to new groups of immigrants, and who continue to support a policy of “welcoming the stranger” just as this country opened its gates to their ancestors when they were the immigrants and strangers, and to all who fight for the safety and decent treatment of immigrants.

To the women who risked family, job security, and their own constructed identities to shift our collective consciousness about men and women and raise awareness of the effects of patriarchy.

To all of those who risk scorn and violence and often lose their families to lead the struggle against homophobia and for the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer people.

To those who continue to work for equal access for people with disabilities.

To those who advocate for sensitivity to animals and to the earth itself.

To all of the innovators and artists who have brought so much beauty and usefulness into our lives.

To those who fought to extend democratic principles not only in politics but also in the workplace and in the economy.

To those who developed innovations in science and technology, in literature and art, in music and dance, in film and in computer science, in medical and communication technologies, and in methods to protect ourselves from the destructive impacts of some of these new technologies.

To those who developed psychological insights and increased our ability to be sensitive to our impact on others.

To those who developed ecological awareness.

To those who brought the insights of their own particular religious or spiritual traditions that emphasized love and caring for others and generosity toward those who had been impoverished and sought to turn those ideas not only into a call for personal charity but also into a mission to transform our economic and political systems in ways that would reflect those values.

To those who fought for peace and nonviolence, and who helped stop many wars.

All of that we celebrate in America involved hard-won struggles to overcome entrenched ways of thinking. Adding to the difficulty of the struggle were the struggles among groups of people working for liberation. Sometimes people in oppressed groups would say, “My suffering is more intense or more important than your suffering” to each other, undermining rather than building solidarity.

Sometimes one oppressed group was used by the people with power to fight against another oppressed group. Some people in each previously oppressed group would seize their hard-won power and turn their backs on the needs of others, even discriminating against or looking down on others whose struggles had not yet been won. It was sad and shocking when people struggling for peace found that some of their allies were racist or sexist or homophobic or anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic or anti-Christian or held hateful views about all religious people or about all secular people or about all white people or about all men. Sometimes that would lead people to give up. Luckily, many others did not give up, and so the struggles for human freedom dignity, human rights, economic security, and civil liberties were not abandoned.

Those struggles continue today, and it could easily take many more decades before they are fully realized.

But the good news is that many people have retained their basic decency and caring for others. We are surrounded by people who care. True, it’s often hard to show that. When first approached, many people express indifference to the well-being of others.

Our economic system encourages selfishness, me-first-ism, “looking out for number one,” and indifference to the ecological and ethical impacts of our activities, and acting counter to those attitudes feels not only unfamiliar but also risky.

Yet underneath all that, most people yearn for a different kind of world, but they think it is “unrealistic” to struggle for what they really believe in, since they are convinced that nobody else shares that desire with them. They momentarily overcame that fear in 2008 by giving a strong majority vote for Obama — allowing themselves to believe that a Democrat who promised “change we can believe in” and told people “yes, we can [build a very different kind of world]” could himself make the difference. What we’ve learned subsequently is that no candidate within this current system is likely to stick to any transformative goals in the face of overwhelming corporate power and the power of the corporate-subservient media unless we can build a powerful movement of us ordinary people to change our system.

This is part of the reason we’ve created a Network of Spiritual Progressives to support each other in building a world that really does reflect our highest values. If peace, social justice, ecological sensitivity, full implementation of human rights, and the creation of a society based on love is “unrealistic,” then we say “screw realism.” Being realistic in a deeper sense is not accepting “reality” as it is presently presented to us.

We want a different kind of world, and we have to engage in nonviolent struggles to build it. And that has always been the way we have won the battles for precisely the things that make us proud of the victories of the American people: it was always people who were told that what they wanted was “unrealistic” and who essentially said “screw realism — we’re going to fight for what is right” who became the real heroes of the American story. Of course, the powerful often obscure that history, and teach us to think that all the human rights and liberties and freedoms were “given to us,” but actually it was precisely the little people like us who made the big changes that have made this country worthy of celebration.

So the NSP is putting forward the ESRA — the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If passed, the ESRA would prohibit the use of private monies in national elections, hence removing the need of candidates to raise money from the wealthy and the corporate elites – and have elections publicly financed, but with much less money spent, because ESRA would also prohibit media advertisements in the last three months before an election and require those media to give free and equal time to all major candidates. It would also require corporate social and environmental responsibility by requiring that every large corporation get a new corporate charter once every five years, which would only be granted to those corporations that could prove a satisfactory history ofenvironmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens. And we, the communities who were affected by the operations of that corporation, including its workers, but including anyone whose environment had been shaped by that corporation’s activities, would be able to provide testimony to that jury about how environmentally and socially responsible that corporation had been. So when we at the NSP say that we want to fight for the survival of the planet, we go to the core of contemporary selfishness – the way our economic system encourages the pursuit of profit as the highest goal, and we challenge that way of thinking and that way of organizing a society.

Today we celebrate the moments when the U.S. and the American people have acted not only from self-interest but also from genuine caring. The people of this country have a huge amount of goodness in them, and they’ve shown that side to the world as well. They showed it when they supported the World War II efforts to stop Hitler and the fascists. They showed it when they stopped the war in Vietnam. They showed it when they reacted with revulsion at the torture being done in our name at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The majority of Americans today disagree with the war policies of our government, but after the failure of the Obama administration to live up to the peace promises that most Americans thought would be the essence of this administration’s foreign policies, many have given up in despair. That sense of powerlessness must be overcome — but don’t confuse powerlessness with evil intent, because when people felt there was hope, they voted for it, and thought they were going to get a very different kind of world. If in the next elections they allow the country to move to the right, it is more out of despair than out of commitment to an agenda of power and hate. We insist that there is much to be proud of about being an American.

Now let’s take a moment to each share own story about times when we’ve felt proud of the United States or of Americans. [If there is a large group, break it into smaller groups of four or five people. If the group is small, just go around to everyone in the circle. After allocating at least three minutes for each person, resume the larger group conversation.]

We are proud of our country. We love its physical beauty. Many of us come from immigrant families who found refuge here when there were few other societies on the planet that would welcome our ancestors. Let us once again commit to overcoming the fear of the other and cultivating a spirit of generosity and love toward the stranger.

We are proud of the people of this country in many of the same ways that we are proud of our own families — not by denying that there are problems, sometimes even overwhelming problems, but that we are still proud and care very deeply about them, and are committed to working through the problems.

Celebrating Global Interdependence

Part of the cherished myth of this country is the notion of the rugged individualist who makes his own way (the rugged individualist is almost always male in this myth) without anyone else’s help. This image was never true. Even on the frontier, people relied on their neighbors, on the animals that provided their food, and later on those who built and operated the railroads, bringing supplies to frontier towns.

Today it is even less possible to be a rugged individualist. We can’t drive on a road, operate an appliance, run water, or make a phone call without benefiting from the work of countless other human beings, some here in the United States and some in other parts of the world.

With the advent of a deeper understanding of how our global environment works, and with the increasing integration of the economies of all countries into a global economy, we’ve come to see that our well-being is linked to the well-being of everyone else on the planet.

Our well-being depends on their well-being, and their well-being depends on our well-being. We are all fundamentally interdependent. And we’ve learned the same thing about Nature — when we pour poisons into the air, the ground, or the oceans, those toxics eventually come back to hurt us and other people around the world, just as when they do the same it ends up hurting us and not just people who live near them. Yet the ideal of individualism persists, and we’re encouraged to act as if we need no one else, no community support.

We would  like to invite all attendees at this table or this celebration  to take some time now to comment on the ways you see the archetype of the self-sufficient individualist influencing your own lives or the life of our country. [Conduct small group discussions.]

Despite the persistence of this individualist mindset, our impact on others and theirs on us is huge, and manifests not only in personal and cultural terms but also in relationship to economic and political conditions.

Today, close to 3 billion people (half the people in the world) live on less than $2 a day, and close to half of that number live on $1 a day. Huge numbers of people are starving or very hungry, even as we are reading this and preparing for a good meal and playful celebration. Is it any wonder that some of these people, and those who care about them (even if they themselves are not poor), are very angry at the way the world’s politics and economics get set up?

We don’t think it is good or legitimate when anger gets expressed in violent ways. But we also have to take some responsibility for benefiting from a world order that is so unfair and so cruel. According to United Nations figures, somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 children under the age of five will die today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day, because they don’t have the food and basic medical supplies that could have kept them alive. That’s over 12 million children a year — the equivalent of two Holocausts per year!

We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives want to change all this, both by changing the terms of global trade agreements so that they work on behalf of the poor and the hungry, and by establishing (first in the United States, and then in all the advanced industrial societies) a Global Marshall Plan that would allocate between 1 percent and 2 percent of our Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty years toward the goal of ending once and for all domestic and global poverty, homelessness, inadequate education, and inadequate health care.

On this celebration of our interdependence, we want to reaffirm our shared commitment to these goals and commit to working with the Network of Spiritual Progressives on best ways to achieve these goals. We are proud that our idea for the Global Marshall Plan was introduced into the House of Representatives as House Resolution 157 by Hon. Keith Ellison (the first Muslim in the House) and was co-sponsored by Hon. Emmanuel Cleaver, Hon. Barbara Lee, Hon. James Moran, Hon. John Conyers, Hon. Dennis Kucinich, and others. The list is growing — ask your represenative in Congress to become a co-sponsor by contacting the office of Keith Ellison.

The key to our alternative, what we call the Strategy of Generosity, is our commitment to re-establish trust and hope among the peoples of the world so that we might begin to reflect and act coherently on ending world poverty in our lifetimes and saving the global environment from the almost certain destruction it faces unless we reverse our policies and give highest priority to protecting the earth. Instead of asking, “What serves the interests of American economic and political geo-power best?” we want a foreign policy that asks, “What best serves all the people on this planet and best serves the survival of the planet itself?”

A world divided by nationalist struggles and vain fantasies of dominating the resources of the earth on behalf of one or a few of the more powerful nations must be recognized as increasingly insane and self-destructive for the human race. Yet very many decent and moral people, having been talked into accepting the current construction of politics as “the given” within which one must work, end up participating in this insanity and calling it “realistic.” We were not made safer by the war in Iraq, we will not be made safer by the war in Afghanistan or by sanctions and military strikes against Iran, and our ally Israel is not made safer by its Occupation of the West Bank or its blockade of Gaza.

It is an urgent necessity to break through that set of assumptions about what is and what is not realistic so that people can look at the Strategy of Generosity not through the frame of existing, inside-the-beltway assumptions or the “common sense” thrown at us daily by a corporate-dominated media, but rather through the frame of what the human race and the planet earth urgently need in order to stop the insane people who have power at the moment from continuing their disastrous path.

It is a huge delusion to imagine that the insanity of framing our foreign policy only in terms of narrowly conceived American interests is somehow confined to one political party or one set of candidates for office — it is a shared insanity that must be challenged in every part of our political thinking, and it is just as likely to be articulated by people with whom we agree on many other issues as by people who are overtly reactionary or overtly ultra-nationalistic.

We are calling for a Strategy of Generosity to replace the Strategy of Domination as the best path to Homeland Security. Building that Strategy of Generosity requires that we reconnect with the human capacity to recognize the other as an embodiment of the sacred, or, in secular language, as fundamentally valuable for who they are and not as only instrumentally valuable for what they can do for us.

Recognizing the other as sacred reflects a pre-reflective, pre-nationalist connection between people — and that must become the center of our campaign for peace and environmental sanity. The bonds of caring among human beings can and must be fostered by our policies.

So although we can emphasize that it is in our own interests as humans to recognize that our individual and societal well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet, and sometimes will frame part of the argument for the Global Marshall Plan in those terms, we have to emphasize as well that our commitment to the Global Marshall Plan is not only because it could save the planet from nuclear and conventional wars and jumpstart the process of global environmental planning, but also because it reflects our deepest truth: the Unity of All Being and our commitment to care for each other as momentary embodiments of the God energy (or in secular terms, the goodness and love and generosity) of the Universe at its current stage of evolutionary development.

We wish to foster an ethos of caring and love for others because it is ethically and spiritually right to do so, not only because it is instrumentally the only sane policy for saving the planet and saving the lives of our children and grandchildren.

The Global Marshall Plan is the first step toward providing the sense of mutual trust that will allow for the next step needed by humanity in the twenty-first century: a global plan for how to allocate the world’s resources and regulate what is put into the environment by individuals and corporations. We cannot save the planet from ecological destruction if we are not willing to develop a coherent rational plan and then use it to guide our use of the resources of the planet. Such a global plan will not be workable until the peoples of the world truly understand their interdependence.

Our celebration of Interdepedence Day is an important part of the process of building a new consciousness. For that reason, we need to ask each other now to make a pledge to spend some time this summer taking around our petition of support for the Global Marshall Plan and for the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We ask you to spend time collecting signatures of endorsement, getting your congressional representatives and U.S. senators to back these measures (they are around now for a week), plus getting everyone you know to sign the Global Marshall Plan and the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment petition.

Our interdependence with the world goes is deep and dramatic. Every human being on the planet is valuable, created in the image of God, fundamentally deserving of love, caring, kindness and generosity.

We know that there is a huge cultural and intellectual richness in the variety of cultures, religions, spiritual practices, music, literature, and shared wisdom of the societies that make up our world. On this Interdependence Day, we not only commit to helping improve the material conditions of the rest of the world, but also to learning from the rest of the world. We approach this task in a spirit of humility, aware that we in the United States have sometimes appeared to the rest of the world as a big bully and not as a society genuinely interested in sharing its cultural and intellectual and material gifts or in learning from others about their own particular cultural and spiritual heritages.

The impression of arrogance is particularly intense at this historical moment when the war in Iraq and the attempts by the U.S. to manipulate other countries is so visible to many of the people on our planet, but it will be a problem even after we stop the war in Iraq.

We want to communicate to the peoples of the world our own deep sorrow and repentance at the ways that our wonderful country has taken wrong turns in its foreign policy, and the ways that it has acted with arrogance and insensitivity to the needs of others, and supported an economic system whose insensitivity to the needs of the environment and its preaching of “me-first-ism” and looking at everyone with a “what’s in it for me?” consciousness has already done immense damage.

We are happy to celebrate this Interdependence Day on Independence Day for the United States.

Some of us wish to invoke God’s blessing on our country and will do so now. But before we go there, we also wish to invoke God’s blessings on all people on our planet and on the planet itself. We know that nationalist chauvinism, thinking that we are or can be better than everyone else, and the manic need to be “number one” can lead us into wars and destructive behavior. Instead, we want to bless everyone on the planet, to celebrate with everyone. So we rejoice in the people of this country; we rejoice with them as we celebrate all that is beautiful and good in this country, and at the same time we affirm our deep connection to all people on this planet and invoke God’s blessing on all of us, together, and pray that we soon will see a triumph of a new spirit of kindness, generosity, love, caring for others, ecological sensitivity, and celebration with joy, awe, and wonder at all the good that surrounds us in this amazing universe.

If you choose to model a July 4 celebration on this holiday guide, we invite you also to incorporate songs from the NSP July 4 song sheet, which includes alternative lyrics for songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “Imagine.”

NSP July 4 Song Sheet

Songs for July 4 from the Network of Spiritual Progressives

NSP Song

NSP, Join with me, as we transform the world’s reality, Love and kindness, radical amazement, peace and generosity (2)

  1.  Save the planet from environmental crisis, stop wars , torture and poverty,
  2. Let our voices cry out that we have no doubt that love and kindness will triumph, you will see
  3. Our Network of Spiritual Progressives affirms science and spirit both!
  4. Domination replaced by love, gentleness placed above the world of power and of might!
  5. It’s time to end poverty and hunger, around the world and in the U.S. too.
  6. We have enough to share, with humility and care, we care one with all humanity – it’s true!
  7. Don’t let them tell you to “be realistic” in a world full of wars and poverty.
  8. Only fundamental change can prevent a world deranged from destroying us and all the planet too!
  9. The selfishness and greed that surround us lead many to despair that things can change,
  10. Yet we know that people yearn for a world that can turn to love, peace and generosity.

 Peace Song


Let everyone ‘neath her vine and fig tree live in peace and unafraid

And into plowshares beat their swords nations shall learn war no more.

Let justice roll down like a mighty stream, affirming goodness is not just a dream,

And we will use all our consciousness to build bridges of love and kindness

I’m going to lay down my sword and spear Down by the Riverside, Study war no more!

I ain’t gonna study war no more (6)  (Then back to Loe Yisah Goy el Goy Cherev)

A Shared Blessing after the Meal Has Been Finished

You shall eat, and be satisfied, and then you shall bless (x2) ve’achalta ve’savata uvey’rachta

We ate when we were hungry and now we’re satisfied

We thank the source of blessing for all that S/He provides

Hunger is a yearning in body and soul

Earth, air, fire, water, and spirit makes us whole…

Giving and receiving we open up our hands

From seedtime through harvest, we’re partners with the land…

We share in a vision of wholeness and release

Where every child is nourished and we all live in peace

Loving for the stranger, peace and justice too.

So all the goodness in our lives is shared with others too.

Transformation is our goal, loving is our way,

Humility, joy and gratitude, thank God, every day.

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain

For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plain

America America Godshed Her grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea

O beautiful for pilgrim’s feet whose stern impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness

America America God mend thine every flaw

Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law

O beautiful for working folk who forged the wealth we see

In farm and mill, in home & school, unsung in history

America America may race nor sex nor creed

No more divide, but side by side, transform the world, made free

Imagine (Tikkun version of John Lennon’s song)

Imagine there’s all goodness … It’s easy if you try

No Hell below us … Above us only sky.

Imagine all the people … Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries … It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for … And no oppression too

Imagine all the people … Living life in peace

You, you may say I am a dreamer … But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us … And the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions … I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger … A sisterhood of man

Imagine all the people … Sharing all the world …

You, you may say I am a dreamer … But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us … And the world will be as one..

Imagine love is flowing … No scarcity of care,

Holiness surrounds us … The sacred everywhere

Imagine awe and wonder … Replacing greed and fear

You may say we’re all dreamers, … But we’re not the only ones

TIKKUN and Spirit soaring … And the world will live as one!

We Shall Overcome

We shall overcome (2) We shall overcome someday

Oh, deep in my heart I know that I do believe that we shall overcome some day.

We’ll walk hand in hand….

Blacks and whites together, gays and straights together…..

Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims Jews and Christians….

We will not despair, we are not alone, Spirit is unfolding through us…oh deep in my heart, I know that I do believe, love and justice shall prevail.

This Land Is Your Land

This land is your land, this land is my land

From [the] California to the [Staten] New York Island,

From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters,

[God blessed America for me.]

As I went walking that ribbon of highway

And saw above me that endless skyway,

And saw below me the golden valley, I said:

This land was made for you and me.

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me

A sign was painted said: Private Property,

But on the back side it didn’t say nothing –

That side was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple

By the Relief Office I saw my people –

As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if

This land was made for you and me.

Ode Yavoe

Ode yavoe shalom aleynu, ode yavoe shalom aleynu, ode yavoe shalom aleynu, ve’al kulam. Shalom, aleynu ve’al kol ha/olam Salaam Shalom

I Ain’t Marching Anymore (by Phil Ochs)


Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans


At the end of the early British war


The young land started growing


The young blood started flowing

C Am D

But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians In a thousand different fights

I was there at the Little Big Horn I heard many men lying

I saw many more dying But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war

C Am D

It’s always the young to fall

Now look at all we’ve won with the sabre and the gun

Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land Fought in the bloody Civil War

Yes I even killed my brother And so many others

And I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench

In a war that was bound to end all wars

Oh I must have killed a million men And now they want me back again

But I ain’t marchin’ anymore


For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky

Set off the mighty mushroom roar When I saw the cities burning

I knew that I was learning That I ain’t marchin’ anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’ when they close the missile plants,

United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore, Call it “Peace” or call it “Treason,”

Call it “Love” or call it “Reason,” But I ain’t marchin’ any more.


From work and the media we learn to look our for number one

In a marketplace of greed and selfishness,

Loneliness and alienation, pain that pervades our nation,

The New Internationale (traditional melody, words by Rabbi Michael Lerner)

Arise ye prisoners of alienation, arise ye wretched of the earth

For justice calls for liberation, a grand new world in birth

No more racism or sexism shall distort us

Throw homophobia out the door.

The earth we save from destruction

We give priority to the poor.

Tis our love for each other, let God’s spirit fill this place

The international working class can unite the human race

Tis the moment always ready to rebuild the world with love.

And in the place of violence we honor the peaceful dove.

Let There Be Peace on Earth (Sy Miller & Jill Jackson)

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on Earth,

The peace that was meant to be.

With God our Creator, we’re one family.

Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.

With ev’ry step I take, let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment and live each moment

in peace eternally.

Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.

The Times They are a Changing by Bob Dylan

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’.

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’.

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’.

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’.

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’.

Changes (by Phil Ochs)

Capo 1st fret

Intro: G/A/D/Em/G/A/F#m/Bm/Em/A/D/Em/A/D

G A D Em

Sit by my side, come as close as the air,

G A F#m

Share in a memory of gray;

Bm Em A D

And wander in my words, dream about the pictures

Em A D

That I play of changes.

Green leaves of summer turn red in the fall

To brown and to yellow they fade.

And then they have to die, trapped within

the circle time parade of changes.

Scenes of my young years were warm in my mind,

Visions of shadows that shine.

‘Til one day I returned and found they were the

Victims of the vines of changes.

The world’s spinning madly, it drifts in the dark

Swings through a hollow of haze,

A race around the stars, a journey through

The universe ablaze with changes.

Moments of magic will glow in the night

All fears of the forest are gone

But when the morning breaks they’re swept away by

Golden drops of dawn, of changes.

Passions will part to a strange melody.

As fires will sometimes burn cold.

Like petals in the wind, we’re puppets to the silver

strings of souls, of changes.

Your tears will be trembling, now we’re somewhere else,

One last cup of wine we will pour

And I’ll kiss you one more time, and leave you on

the rolling river shores of changes.

(repeat first verse)

There but for Fortune (by Phil Ochs)

Intro: G Cm G Cm G Cm

G Cm G Cm

Show me a prison, show me a jail,

G Em Am D

Show me a prisoner whose face has gone pale

Em C Am

And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why

Bm G Am D

And there but for fortune, may go you or I

Show me the alley, show me the train,

Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain,

And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why

There but for fortune, may go you or go I — you and I.

Show me the whiskey stains on the floor,

Show me the dunken man as he stumbles out the door,

And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why

There but for fortune, may go you or go I — you and I.

[Extra verse... written by Noel Paul Stookey]

Show me the famine, show me the frail

Eyes with no future that show how we failed

And I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why

There but for fortune, go you or I.

Show me the country where bombs had to fall,

Show me the ruins of buildings once so tall,

And I’ll show you a young land with so many reasons why

There but for fortune, go you or go I — you and I.

You and I,

There but for fortune, go you or go I — you and I.

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (Ed McCurdy)

Last night I had the strangest dream

I’d ever dreamed before.

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war.

I dreamed I saw a mighty room

Filled with women and men.

And the paper they were signing said

They’d never fight again.

And when the paper was all signed

And a million copies made,

They all joined hands and bowed their heads

And grateful pray’rs were prayed.

And the people in the streets below

Were dancing ’round and ’round,

While swords and guns and uniforms

Were scattered on the ground.

[repeat first verse]

The Left Hand of God (by Sharon Abreu)

I want to sit at the Left Hand of God. (2 x)

I want to live my life in peace,

Feel anxiety release,

In kindness, compassion and love.

Why would I go anywhere else,

If I knew my way home,

If I knew myself?

I want to sit at the Left Hand of God. (2x)

I’m gonna let the tears flow,

In joy or sadness, let them go,

Let the waters of life be set free.

At the Left Hand of God,

That’s where you’ll find me.

Won’t you join me? (2 x)

As I join with the Divine,

In a New Bottom Line,

I see forgiveness unfold all around me.

And my heart, free from sin,

Begins to let love in.

I find meaning in this life of mine,

Gonna stop and take some time,

Appreciate the grand design.

And sit at the Left Hand of God,

Sit at the Left Hand of God.

Why would I go anywhere else,

If I knew my way home,

If I knew myself?

I’m gonna sit at the Left Hand of God. (2x)

The light of Heaven on my face,

I see the whole human race

Glow with generosity, heal all animosity,

Celebrate civility, embrace sustainability,

Feel the Earth’s pulse beating in our heart,

Hear it singing, “We were never apart.”

And we’ll sit at the Left Hand of God,

We’ll sit at the Left Hand of God.

Why would I go anywhere else,

If I knew my way home,

If I knew myself?

Shalom aleichem, (Tr.: Peace be upon you)

As salaam aleikum, (Tr.: Peace be upon you)

Paz, liebe, libertad, (Tr.: Peace, love, freedom)

Here at the Left Hand of God. (3 x)

It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Darkness at the break of noon

Shadows even the silver spoon

The handmade blade, the child’s balloon

Eclipses both the sun and moon

To understand you know too soon

There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn

Suicide remarks are torn

From the fool’s gold mouthpiece

The hollow horn plays wasted words

Proves to warn

That he not busy being born

Is busy dying.

Temptation’s page flies out the door

You follow, find yourself at war

Watch waterfalls of pity roar

You feel to moan but unlike before

You discover

That you’d just be

One more person crying.

So don’t fear if you hear

A foreign sound to your ear

It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall

Private reasons great or small

Can be seen in the eyes of those that call

To make all that should be killed to crawl

While others say don’t hate nothing at all

Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark

As human gods aim for their mark

Made everything from toy guns that spark

To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark

It’s easy to see without looking too far

That not much

Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates

Teachers teach that knowledge waits

Can lead to hundred-dollar plates

Goodness hides behind its gates

But even the president of the United States

Sometimes must have

To stand naked.

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged

It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge

And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you

Into thinking you’re the one

That can do what’s never been done

That can win what’s never been won

Meantime life outside goes on

All around you.

You lose yourself, you reappear

You suddenly find you got nothing to fear

Alone you stand with nobody near

When a trembling distant voice, unclear

Startles your sleeping ears to hear

That somebody thinks

They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit

Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy

Insure you not to quit

To keep it in your mind and not fergit

That it is not he or she or them or it

That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules

For the wise men and the fools

I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority

That they do not respect in any degree

Who despise their jobs, their destinies

Speak jealously of them that are free

Cultivate their flowers to be

Nothing more than something

They invest in.

While some on principles baptized

To strict party platform ties

Social clubs in drag disguise

Outsiders they can freely criticize

Tell nothing except who to idolize

And then say God bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire

Gargles in the rat race choir

Bent out of shape from society’s pliers

Cares not to come up any higher

But rather get you down in the hole

That he’s in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault

On anyone that lives in a vault

But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him.

Old lady judges watch people in pairs

Limited in sex, they dare

To push fake morals, insult and stare

While money doesn’t talk, it swears

Obscenity, who really cares

Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see

With a killer’s pride, security

It blows the minds most bitterly

For them that think death’s honesty

Won’t fall upon them naturally

Life sometimes

Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards

False gods, I scuff

At pettiness which plays so rough

Walk upside-down inside handcuffs

Kick my legs to crash it off

Say okay, I have had enough

What else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen

They’d probably put my head in a guillotine

But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.

Shalom Chaveyreem

Peace to our friends (all the people of the earth)

Shalom chaveyreem, shalom chaveyreem, shalom chaveyreem, shalom, shalom

le hit-ra-ote le hit rah-oat  shalaom, shalom

tags: US Politics   
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