For this #TunesTuesday, I would like to highlight a touching ballad, written by ManagerSteve, called “When He Was Over There.” He published it on Veteran’s Day, last month, and it has been with me ever since. Please click on the pic below to listen:
On first note, a person notices the simplicity of the arrangement. Ah, but keep listening. That is the point. There is a great message in the simplicity of this ballad, and poignancy in its telling.
ManagerSteve is a reverent ballad-singer and song-writer. He reminds me of Dan Fogelberg, and his songs remind me of “Cats in the Cradle.” On a smaller scale, some of you from the 70’s might remember the wonderful Christian singer, Don Francisco. In a similar style, the way ManagerSteve delivers his songs, through the soft but resonant timbre of his voice, and the occasional breaking of it…. well, my heart just breaks along with it, and I’m captivated. Every nuance of feeling and sentiment, I sense; the song becomes alive and anything, but simple.
In his lyrics there are no patriotic platitudes, just the simple story of a couple’s bravery—of a man who loved what he did, his country, and his brotherhood so much, he could not NOT defend it. And a woman who loved her husband so much and WHO he was, she could not stand in his way, nor would want to.
A time-revisited story of personal sacrifice, and of real love—not today’s version with conditions, and “what do I get” out of it. It is a story of what is at the heart of each person’s longing for finding that “special one” – of just truly loving one another as each IS. Even for what it might mean. Even if our hearts might break.
I admire the message of this song so much, I had to ask Steve if I could write about it. I don’t know if I was born fifty years too late, but I loved what our people used to stand for –courage, hard work, nothing was for free and anything that was was hurtful to one’s pride. It was so much harder- but they had pride in what they ultimately did accomplish. Well-earned pride. And pride was good for something– I loved the generation that survived the Depression, tamed the skies with flying machines, and fought a war that became definitive of spiritual battle here on earth. There was no political correctness. There was neither time nor resources for it. If truth wasn’t face the way it was, in that split second between life and death, how could it be defended?
We’ve made a lot of progress in many other ways. I like to think we’ve grown in tolerance for other races and religions, and women don’t need a man nor a ring to have a family or a successful socioeconomic status. People can marry each other because they truly love one another and want to be together, and not because one has an “outie” and the other has an “innie”. But I so hope that one day soon, we will push away euphemisms in exchange for reality, even if it’s hard to face. We can’t continue to change things for the better, unless we honestly assess where we are. Today, we aren’t allowed to do that by the pressure of our culture. What happens if we can no longer say the truth as we see it? What will happen to us? Doesn’t that invite the opposite to make its presence known and to set up camp? If we can no longer say honest things in the brightness of day, what will happen when the cloak of night covers truth and deception as one?
If we stay on this path, I don’t see how we will continue to make any progress. We will just split further from what is real, which is our granite amidst quicksand, and I hate to see what the outcome will be for us at that point.
That’s why I like ManagerSteve’s song so much. He doesn’t share his political concerns. He tells a story simply, but touchingly. That, in my opinion, is the most masterful way of communicating. We are left with meaning in its brave straightforwardness, filtering layers of intellect, heart, and soul. We come back to the deepest level of us all. Two thousand years ago, we fought for food and resources in each other’s towns. Survival. A thousand years ago, it was about territory and ego (which culture controlled the Holy Land, and new worlds). Today, it seems that it’s all about that, plus warring ideologies, with the treacherous ally, Apathy.
I don’t think we will solve the problems by saying that these problems don’t exist. They do. And it saddens me to see so many in my generation tune out, tune in, and tune out two weeks later. One person said, “Let me tell you my theory that it (what happened in Paris) will never happen here (in the USA).” I was so angry!… when he told me that, I stopped him from continuing. So, does that make it better? That it’s not on our own shores? Then because it happened somewhere else it isn’t as important? We should feel safe in our beds because we have an ocean between “us” and “them”? So therefore we shouldn’t care or even prepare? How SELFISH. How short-sighted. How incredibly naive, immature….and unwise.
What we can do, instead of hypothesize, is decide. How real will we let this world we are living in, be to us? Why are we anesthetizing ourselves? Why are we letting go of our values? I know life has been hard and dark for about ten years now, in our country. I have been in the trenches for most of it, and I’m so very tired too. But can we afford to let go of what we believe in and what makes up our character, when we need them most?
I hope not. I hope our Grandmothers and Grandfathers from that Great Generation do not become distant to us, as time moves forward. But rather, they become our living heroes through our memory, ever present in a rapidly-changing and uncertain world. If we let them be.
It is not Veteran’s Day today. But every day we are each fighting something. How will we fight it?
What we make a stand for, defines us. What we cave for, also defines us. So will we flip someone off on the freeway, and pass on the garbage by cutting someone else off? Ignore it, say it never happened? Or think, “Wow, they really are having a bad day- Dear Lord, let something good happen for them today so that they can know Light is all around them?”
How will we treat the bully or bullies at work? Will we try to stay below the radar as most of us do? Or when it comes time for them to ask not one of our co-workers, but ourselves to do something unethical, or at the least extremely hurtful to another, will we do it? Will we justify it by saying our children need us to put food on the table? Or will we find a way to provide for them as we also fight for a better world by being an example of integrity? A world we will bequeath to them…
Will we continue to cover up our crosses underneath our blouses so they will not be seen? Will we feel scared that a co-worker heard us when we accidentally say “God bless you” instead of “Bless you”? Will we be made to feel guilty for saying the stores look so festive and Christmas-y, and the worker says, “I don’t believe in anything spiritual whatsoever.” (So she can be hostile in her anti-spirituality and be politically-correct, but I must be conciliatory because I commented on the traditional holiday that is just as much a part of who I am, as is her anti-spiritual self?)
I have experienced every single one of these instances, as I’m sure many other readers have.
Notice I answer none of these questions. I only bring them up- for they are for each of us to decide. But soldiers sacrifice their families, and their lives for US, our safety, and our freedoms. What are we willing to do to make our little corner of the world better? Aren’t we, as human beings, compelled to do so?
It doesn’t take pseudo-arguments or an “I-know-better-than-you-do” attitude, uselessly wasting our energies fighting on FaceBook. It takes heart.
We have to just, care. And act from that caring, not fear.
Even for what it might mean.