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The Wind Blows Wherever It Wants

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Message Ezekiel Jones

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

I just came from my daily trip to the local market, this time for some fresh kruh (bread) and a half-kilo of šunka (ham). As is often the case, the local radio station that provides the background noise was playing a song from America's Baby Boomer era. The local DJ has a fondness for Motown, but Dylan was his choice this morning. and a mundane moment became poignant as that nasally voice sang some words I could dance to.

When I hear 60's era Dylan or Country Joe McDonald or Slick and Balin wailing "Volunteers," a glimmer of anamnesis makes it possible to re-experience the feelings of my youth. With such musical mentors reinforcing the criticisms of writer-activists like Malcolm and Eldridge, I shared with many of my peers an awareness of America's many serious faults, but that youthful cynicism was tempered by a hope--even a sadly naive confidence--that my generation would set things on a new and better course.

Nixon's landslide re-election over a man too decent to be President shook that confidence, but the system's self-correction through the mid-70's provided reassurance that an America still recognizable as a free nation would be preserved until "we"--the Boomers--got our chance to do things the right way.

Well, we're taking our shot right now, and it seems certain that a Republic that survived a Civil War, four Presidential assassinations and Tricky Dick will be brought to an end under Baby Boomer leadership.

Clinton was bad enough, his life a revealing example of how most of us repeatedly chose ambition over principle, momentary satisfaction over long term progress. An administration that began by singing "it'll be better than before," ended up settling for welfare "reform," "don't ask, don't tell," and NAFTA. Its greatest victory was managing to avoid a vote to convict in the Senate.

But Clinton deserves a spot on Rushmore compared to his fellow Boomer and successor. Surrounded by Nixophiles that the prosecutors missed back in the 70's, George Bush's illegal wars and trampling of the Constitution have managed to bring a hard rain that America will not survive. The nation's flaws have been nurtured rather than abated until nothing is left but the Monster.

Forty years ago, Dylan thought it was still worth asking questions about how long human misery, oppression and war could go on without its victims and its perpretators working together to find a better way. The answer proved elusive, blowin' in the wind, and that wind turned out to be as fickle as a 1st century Palestinian Jew was reported to have claimed it to be.

The wind blows wherever it wants.

And it has blown the answers to questions about peace and justice and freedom far, far away from the United States to lands that know better than to think that yesterday's gone, that instead remember the hard lessons that war and oppression have taught.
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