Au Lecteur

Don’t Let It Happen Here.

Posted in (R)evolution, Quirks by aulecteur on June 29, 2012

One day they came and they took the communists,
And I said nothing because I was not a communist.

Then one day they came and they took the people of the Jewish faith,
And I said nothing because I was had no faith left.

One day they came and they took the unionists,
And I said nothing because I was not a unionist.

One day they burned down the Catholic churches.
And I said nothing because I was born a Protestant.

Then one day they came and they took me.
And I could say nothing because I was guilty as they were,
For not speaking out and saying that all men have a right to freedom.

Mingus Big Band “Don’t Let it Happen Here” on Grooveshark

The spoken word has changed since Charles Mingus in the 60s and seems to be different in every recording I’ve listened to. Don’t Let It Happen Here is inspired by German anti-fascist pastor Martin Niemoller‘s poem “First they came…” – about how nobody who should have known better stood up to Hitler.

Mingus was a civil rights activist in his time and you can hear it in the music. There’s a lot of intensity, passion, and a sense of urgency in the politically focused stuff. Maybe it’s just my interpretation of it, but that’s what’s great about jazz, and music in general, right? Open to interpretation. The audience’s experience completes the piece.

The poem, the song, is about the dangers of political apathy. If left unchecked, society will stall, progress will regress, fear will trump reason, emotion will make logic its bitch.

We see evidence of this already. More people vote for reality television contestants than Prime Minister. More people read gossip rags and sports pages than the newspaper – but the newsroom has been gutted by media ownership concentration anyway. We listen to pundits and fake experts who tell us what we want to hear. We don’t think critically enough. We don’t stand up for our privacy rights. We don’t stand up for human rights if it means more expensive gas, food, shoes, etc. We don’t stand up for each other because who has the time to speak out, or lest we become targets ourselves. We are insulated in our own fearful comatose cloud of distraction, individualism and uncertainty. And somehow this cloud, what by its nature should float, instead is a lead balloon holding us down.

I don’t have a solution to advocate, but I would like to remind you to think critically (about what you hear, read, think you understand), consume less (products, media, land), give more (of your time, your money, your self), fear less, love more, and decide what part you want to play in the system. And maybe when the time comes, when the revolution is at your door, you’ll know what side you’re on.

And it won’t be based on blind faith, marketing tactics, ideologies, or false allegiances.

Oh Lord, don’t let it happen here.


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