Ballad for America Today

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain 

For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain 

America, America, God shed His grace on thee 

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea 

So much potential and look what we’ve become.

O beautiful for Pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress 

Pilgrims who came as asylum seekers. Pilgrims who as refugees sought freedom from oppression. Pilgrims whose stern impassioned stress brought them across the ocean and into a New World where they had hopes and dreams and plans.  Some of them my ancestors. Maybe that’s why I feel this particular burden to call out the hypocrisy today – why I can’t stay silent when I see how we now treat people.  When I look at America today, when I stand here with the feet I inherited from these Pilgrims, I also stand here with their stern impassioned stress for freedom and I cannot see it here anymore.  Along the way we have allowed others to write our stories and tell us who we are. Along the way, we have allowed those who sought freedom to take it from others. Along the way, we have allowed ourselves to be distracted and we have believed promises of intentions without any demand for actions to back them up. We have politicians who are working for lobbyists and big corporations and no longer for We The People.  What do We The People want? It can’t be this.

A thoroughfare for freedom beat, across the wilderness 

And everyone who stood in the way or was needed for slave labor was beat. Violence. That is the legacy. Manifest Destiny for the white man, loss of land and home and pride for the Indigenous People murdered and stolen from and shoved onto reservations – a separate nation within our midst . . . Until they do something with their land that makes it desirable to us and then we figure out a way to mine it, or lay pipeline through it.  Always new ways to beat that thoroughfare.  Black bodies torn away from their homes and families and shipped here as chattel, property, to be beaten and farm that wilderness with sweat and tears in bondage.  Loss of wilderness for everyone. When will we learn that freedom is not freedom if it’s only for some, or at the expense of others, or with greater loss than the gain?  Freedom has not ever been the goal – we can see this looking back.  This is what abusers tell their victims. I did it for your own good. You needed me. I made you who you are today.  Partnered with the declaration that you deserved it.  You were nothing but wild people in the wilderness – you needed me to tame you.  Look at what you’ve become, America! Nothing is free, but you sure have to be brave to survive here.

America, America, God mend thine every flaw 

When, God, will we acknowledge and do something about every flaw of America? When will we stop deflecting – yes, other places have it worse.  That doesn’t mend our flaws! When will we stop gaslighting – yes, police do shoot black bodies dead for no damn reason but they’re black. Men do rape women and subject us to a whole lot more than that as well . . . Just because we’re women.  When will we stop triangulating – The rich pay slave wages in order to keep the wealth for themselves and then try to pit everyone who has-not against each other so that we won’t realize if we all banded together we are so many more than they are and we have so much power. Our flaws are not scars that we can reflect on – we have not been mended. We have allowed those flaws to become infected and to fester and stink.

Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law 

Unless you really wanted to control her. Then it’s okay.  Or if you were afraid so you had to shoot the unarmed man … while you were in uniform and on duty.  Then it’s okay. Or if you needed to open more superstores and the quickest way to do that without risking your own wealth was to use government welfare as your health insurance and pay slave wages.  Then it’s okay. The law will be twisted and manipulated to make sure you keep your liberty.

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife 

We have to rely on the heroes – we certainly won’t create any common sense gun laws to protect our children from being shot in their schools by boys who were broken up with by a girl who found them creepy and controlling because she’s either a bitch or someone who knew the guy and knew it was smart to get away from him.  We certainly won’t limit the amount of guns a man can purchase on the internet and in local gun shows before he takes the elevator high enough in a hotel in Vegas to shoot up a concert of people who were just out for the evening with friends and loved ones. We will praise the heroes – the teachers and students who put themselves between more victims and a shooter. And we will praise the next heroes who do the same – and the next – and the next – and the . . . I can’t be the only one who sees the pattern here!  We certainly won’t do anything to prevent the next shooting.

Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life 

Where are these politicians and people in power? How did we get so out of balance? Because now those who love country more than self have abandoned mercy and despise life for anyone but them. They are Nationalists – they are white nationalists – and they want to preserve a white country. They want to Make America White Again because they demand some mercy – they think they are losing it to all those immigrants . . . Who came after them.  Mercy more than life. Mercy more than life. Mercy more than life. If only they were chanting that in Charlottesville when they carried tiki torches. Where is the mercy in “Jews will not replace us?”  Where was the mercy for Heather?

America, America, May God thy gold refine 

And make sure when we redistribute wealth it flows from the bottom to the top because that gold is really valuable and of course that means God wants it in only the hands of the people who can figure out how to steal it from everyone. We’ll call it capitalism, and the church will defend it with it’s last dying breath because we all know that’s the real religion – and gold is the real god.  Let’s not talk about universal healthcare, or education for the masses. Let’s not talk about homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless, food for the hungry.  If they live in America, America with all that gold refined by God and don’t have any of it, they must be the blame, right? They must not be worthy, because certainly being alive and working hard isn’t enough to be worthy. They must not be willing to work, if they were they would take that 4th job.  Besides, with wealth comes power and there are some we fear having power. Let’s make sure to keep that refined gold away from them.

Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine 

Unless you are a woman or a person of color and then your success is seen as a threat to the white man in power.  Your every gain is perceived as taking away from them.  You have to be kept in your place so that they can keep their place. If you are a woman or a person or color your success must have been stolen, or given to you through sexual favors, or maybe, if you really have success, it might be because you figured out how to act like a man or act like you’re white because we all know that’s who gets to be successful.  That’s who divine gain is preserved for. We certainly don’t want to consider that the Divine might want success to flow to everyone. We certainly can’t imagine that power is intended for personal use and not to be directed at others and used as a weapon to keep them in their place.  We really don’t want to admit that the Divine isn’t a white man …

O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years 

What was your dream, O patriot? Did you see all of this when you looked ahead down the years?  Did you see the pain? The power that would be reclaimed through Jim Crow laws and gerrymandered borders for elections? Did you see the Russian and Chinese interference in our elections? Was that your dream? Did you know you were setting course for the pussy grabber lying money laundering racist in chief to declare there were “good people on both sides” when one of the sides was White Supremacists and Nazi’s? I have to believe you could not. I have to believe that you couldn’t see this far through the years. If you could, that dream was not beautiful. It’s become a nightmare for too many.

Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears 

Yes – thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears. It is the non-alabaster cities that shed tears under the dark cloud of grief and mourning of the black bodies shot down by police who, even when they are caught on video and it’s clear everything they did was wrong . . . Hateful . . . Racist! Even when we can all see it with our own eyes and hear it with our own ears, a jury of their peers is spoon fed laws that say if they were scared it was fine.  Non-alabaster cities live daily with the disproportionate number of men of color spending disproportionate lengths of time in prison for the same damn crime as a white man who gets probation. If only some of the alabaster would shed some tears for the non-alabaster we might start to see some change. Until that day, there’s a tarnish on our gleam that only salt water can cleanse.

America, America, God shed His grace on thee 

And what have you done with it? Have you been worthy? Some days it seems that you’ve preserved God’s grace entrusted to you for the rich, or the white, or the people who can afford the best attorney. Those in power demand grace. Those who abuse demand grace. White young men with potential or who are good at sports see all sorts of grace. Brown men, women and children at the border – people who fled their country for the safety and asylum of America and all her grace – are separated, isolated, locked in cages. The President calls them rapists, while their children are raped by the guards. The President calls them murderers, while they die in custody. The President calls them ‘the worst of the worst’ when the truth is that is all he thinks they are worthy of from us. No grace. Even though God shed so much on us. No grace for you. None to spare. Greed wins the day again.

And crown thy good with brotherhood, 

Certainly not sisterhood.  If you are a woman, you will be cat-called and groped. You will be raped on a bus when you’re 14 and you will be locked in a dog cage when you’re 16.  You will cry out with #metoo and you will be told, once again, you are being too loud and drawing too much attention to yourself.  You will be perceived as a threat to the brotherhood.  You will be pursued by the brotherhood – hunted by the brotherhood – dominated, silenced, shamed, raped, and controlled through legislation by the brotherhood. You will not often see the good.

From sea to not so shining and filled with the run off waste of our consumerism and disposable plastic sea…

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