Where Do We Go From Here?
I don’t know how common this is but I have a habit of reading my life experiences into the lyrics of my favorite songs when I can squint and make them work at all. I could write an entire piece on how coming from a legalistic religious background and being trans fits into the lyrics of “Losing My Religion” and another on how trying to escape being Trans while being a believing Southern Baptist Christian is unintentionally described by both “I still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You” if I were to so indulge myself.
Other times it’s only part of a song or a particular turn of the phrase which really works with what’s on my mind, or possibly taking a song in almost the opposite context that it was perhaps intended. Muse’s “Uprising” is such a song.The song I was thinking of when I chose this title was from an Alan Parsons Projected album from the early 80’s which I was addicted to for months.While the album itself (“Turn of a Friendly Card”) is a sort of concept album with many allusions to gambling, it would be a disservice to try and force the gambling interpretation on all the lyrics on this (IMO) magnificent album. The song is called “Games People Play” – it opens like this:
Where do we go from here now that all other children are growin’ up
And how do we spend our lives if there’s no-one to lend us a hand
I don’t want to live here no more,
I don’t want to stay
Ain’t gonna spend the rest of my life,
Quietly fading away
There’s a lot of implication going on in the lyrics of the song, almost contradictory in that it first expresses what seems like resignation, then turning in the opposite direction to defiance. Most people rightly see it either within the gambling context or in a slightly broader description of older people disappointed in their life after the “prime years” are gone and end up “fading away” at the casino looking for a glimmer of excitement or success. But the beauty of music is being able to pour the meaning that speaks to you into lyrics that probably were intended to say something else. Often, indeed, an artist will specifically say something like “I’m not telling you what it means because that’s your role – to give it meaning. (Pink said something much like this in a recent interview).
So why am I off on this tangent? Because here we are on the cusp of a new year, the second year in this current iteration of “The Crazy Years” and I’m asking myself where do we go from here? On the one hand, emotionally mostly, I look around not just at Trump and the monsters he has surrounded himself with, and indeed the pre-existing monsters at the top of the GOP, along with the 25-30% of our voting population who not only are willing to tolerate their evil but in fact passionately support it, and I feel almost resigned to the idea that this country, particularly in the deep red states like the one in which I live, are just not civilized enough to recognize what’s wrong. That part of me thinks “if I lived in NY and NE i was just succeed and join Canada because the Mississippis and the Kentuckys of the world are irredeemable in our lifetimes.” But there’s also the defiance. Maybe no one here “gives us a damn” or wants to “lend us a hand” but I’m not ready to “quietly fade away”.
If time and space permitted, I could give you thousands of words to support the case for despair. The current powers that me have done great damage (and not just on trans or LGB/T issues but in general) and intend a great deal more. And have the power to carry those out for, at least, another year. It is a soul-crushing realization. And yet, if you are even a little familiar with the words spoken by figures who are known to history for making a significant impact on the expansion of justice in human history, their unanimous view (expressed a variety of different words) is that to resign ones self to evil, to not stand and oppose it at every opportunity, is to be complicit in it. We are, it seems, morally obliged to say that we will not “spend the rest of my life quietly fading away.”
Moreover, the potential is there. It would be an unspeakable shame upon our generation if the Republicans did not lose control of the House in 2018 but that alone will not save us from the ill-intentions of the party and their president completely. While much more difficult to achieve, the Senate too is within reach and much more crucial because taking that majority allows an end to the court-packing that is now ongoing. The courts are designed to be the place of refuge to where the oppressed can go and petition for justice. If they are corrupted (as the GOP – not just Trump – is attempting) then generations will suffer. This moment in history is one of those in which inaction is indeed complicity.
We have, as a nation, been here before. The Mega-Rich Oligarchy is not in the midst of their first rodeo. In the 1890’s at the height of the so called “Gilded Age” the people had to resist their ambitions leading to what is now called the Progressive era, in the 1920’s they went unchecked until financial reality led to the Great Depression and a population happy to support New Deal progressive reforms. But the Greedy Class did not learn from these reversals, by the 50’s they were plotting again to exploit the rest of us for their profit and since the days of Reagan they have been doing just that. Do not suppose to yourself that there is daylight between economic exploitation and oppression of vulnerable minorities. Political propaganda that motivates the middle and lower income populations to look for enemies among themselves – blame the Irish, the Catholics, the Jews, the Chinese, the Mexicans, the Blacks, the Muslims, the gays, the trans – is the distraction they use to keep the spotlight off their exploitative economics. To fight either without the other is to miss the point.
So, to move the previous question: where do we go from here?
To work. Into the arena of ideas. Change hearts and minds, not just votes. It’s not, as Rose said in “The Last Jedi” fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.
Photo by: BK