Shoulder to Shoulder

The March of the Women (Shoulder to Shoulder) from Wild Love Music on Vimeo.

This video was produced to remind us of the brave women of the Suffragettes/Suffragists, both in the UK and the USA. It is also dedicated to the women millworkers of Bridport, Dorset, who came out on strike for better pay/conditions in 1912 and marched through the small town singing suffragette songs, including "The March of the Women".

"The March of the Women" (Shoulder to shoulder) was composed by Dame Ethel Smyth in 1910 (words by Cicely Hamilton). Dame Ethel was a leading figure in the women's suffrage movement and dedicated the anthem to the WSPU.

The anthem is sung here by "Werca's Folk", a women's choir based in Northumberland, under the direction of Sandra Kerr, their website is http://www.wercasfolk.com

There will be a recreation of the photograph of the strike in Bridport, West Dorset on 14.2.15, we will be singing this anthem as we march through the streets with our placards!

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A Generation – a musing

I was thinking about generations yesterday as most of the country observed Martin Luther King Jr Day.

My parents’ generation (and mine were on the younger side of it) – The greatest generation – born in the depression, fought and sacrificed in a world war. They buckled down at home, rationing, recycling, women working while men were off to war, building and gathering around a common cause. Were things perfect? Totally not so. There was much discrimination and inequality and when the men came back, women were sent back home or relegated to lower wage jobs.

My generation (and I’m really on the tail end of it on most scales) – The baby boomers, the kids of that generation. We grew up during the “korean conflict” and “vietnam”, neither popularly understood or supported war actions and the cold war which had us hiding under our school desks so we’d know what to do if someone dropped a bomb on us. (PS I am pretty sure the answer to that question is die, perhaps mercifully die.)

But here’s what I was really thinking about. I was pretty young when John Kennedy was assassinated. Such a clear moment even so, with all its somber ceremony and the unexpected killing of his accused murderer. Ruby died long afterward almost an afterthought. The young president, full of hope and vigor was not perfect by any means either but he was inspirational as a leader, even supported the arts. We remember his words today and his promise as a leader taken away too young.

His successor, Lyndon Johnson took on the social missions that Kennedy had set out and accomplished much while simultaneously getting mired in Vietnam. He and his wife underscored the beauty of our nation and pointed out that we needed to preserve and appreciate it.

Then Martin Luther King Jr was killed.

Then Robert Kennedy was killed.

I was older then, old enough that I was taken with the message of both men, too young to do much about it other than being inspired by the ideas. It was a blow to think that someone would remove such leaders from a world that so needed them.

Then Nixon. Seductive in his promise of ending Vietnam. Slimy in almost every other way. There was a summer of his VP being against the wall and leaving. Then it all began to crumble around him. It was scary and yet the process – the hearings, the news reporting, and ultimately his resignation and replacement – was all orderly and reassuring. The constitution holds because people want what’s right and this isn’t.

Like the assassination of Kennedy, everyone hoped we’d never go through anything like that again.

In the years since, government has really faltered. Too much lobby money, too much money behind elections, obviously no need for government experience to rise to a high office. Much political finger pointing, too little discussion or interest in seeing the needs of the nation. Can you imagine anyone saying right now – we should start a new space program. Or invent something that will really clean the air or oceans. We should develop non-polluting transportation and power…

I heard about a guy who wants to run for senate and he’s freaking 95. Come on – surely there’s someone younger available, and frankly I’d like to see some folks younger than me starting to come up. We need new ideas and energy and they need to start getting the experience.

We had a young fellow recently as president and he got shut down by the politicos at every turn. And the current administration would apparently like to erase all traces of its predecessor for no other reason than he was black and young and smart.

Anyway, I was wondering about the impact of losing those three leaders on our generation, with the dollop of September 11, 2001 on top. I think we are in need of new leaders to help us to action but in the meantime we only have us.

World AIDS day 2017

We did some talking about World AIDS day today, specificially about Product RED and the impact it makes on AIDS in Africa. It was an almost cheery video. I looked behind me and all my young(er) co-workers… many at the age of those who were killed by this mysterious, emerging disease. It wiped out so many and there was no hope to offer.

I flashed back to reading that article in the NYTimes (paper edition) which announced that doctors were puzzling over this new disease which seemed to shut down the immune system and which targeted young men… I thought about my co-worker Rudy who died of AIDS, his family denying his whole life.

And I looked at these young folk, ready to do good for those affected in Africa. It’s good but I had this moment that this “problem” has been moved to somewhere far far away.

We’ve come a long way, baby?

Then and Now – Gettysburg and Beyond

Looking back,I first posted these words here in 2015 after an incident in Baltimore triggered violence and looting. I reposted them two years later, a month after this president took office and thinking about what it means to be American and what is worth fighting for.

Today is the anniversary of those words being said overlooking the battlefields of Gettysburg. Two minutes that sum up what is worth fighting for and why we must continue to fight for what we believe.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Today, Poetry

Today at lunch
I wrote a poem about war
and thought
this is what it’s come to
after all these years
of killing.
War again.

That’s not the poem
but it’s what I was thinking.

Someday

Someday, my friends, I will apologize for having filled my social media with scary news stories, abominations of the current world and calls to action, but today is not that day.

Words from Tolkien

Where will wants not, a way opens. — J.R.R. Tolkien

and this perenniel beacon:

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. – J.R.R. Tolkien

and my oft-quoted:

…the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, Book II, The Land of Shadow.