The above link is a transcript of a recent Bob Dylan speech that he gave recently in connection with the charity MusiCares. If you are even the slightest bit interested in Bob Dylan or music in general this speech is worth reading. The original speech was around 30 minutes long. In it he pays tribute to his heroes, talks about confounding critics, and calls out those musicians who were close minded during his early years.
The truth is never simple and yet it is. The truth is we did kill him. By silence we consented… because we couldn’t go on. But by Ares, what did we have to look forward to but to be discarded in the end like Cleitus? After all this time, to give away our wealth to Asian sycophants we despised? Mixing the races? Harmony? Oh, he talked of these things. I never believe in his dream. None of us did. That’s the truth of his life. The dreamers exhaust us. They must die before they kill us with their blasted dreams.
– The character of Ptolemy in the movie Alexander
I was reflecting on Lincoln and other great men today, like Martin Luther King, and was wondering why so many of them seem to be the ones we kill. I remembered this quote from the movie Alexander, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. One of the themes at the end of the movie is that we kill the dreamers. In aiming for a better world, the dreamers ask that the rest of society give up some of the things they are accustomed to. Even if it is for the better of all, this is rarely met with enthusiasm in some circles. Why do we kill the dreamers? In the end, I do not know completely, but it is worth reflecting upon.
Above is a speech by Elizabeth Warren, someone that genuinely seems to have the interest of the American people at heart. I have paid attention to Warren since she first came into mainstream view a couple years ago. She has remained consistent in her message. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, here is a key part of the speech as also quoted by Huffington Post:
Democrats don’t like Wall Street bailouts. Republicans don’t like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts
And yet here we are, five years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again…
So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi[group]. I agree with you Dodd-Frank
isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces!
If this Congress is going to open up Dodd-Frank in the months ahead, then let’s open it up
to get tougher, not to create more bailout opportunities. If we’re going to open up Dodd-Frank, let’s open it up so that once and for all we end too big to fail and I mean really end it, not just say that we did.
Instead of passing laws that create new bailout opportunities for too big to fail banks, let’s pass…something…that would help break up these giant banks.
A century ago Teddy Roosevelt was America’s Trust-Buster. He went after the giant trusts
and monopolies in this country, and a lot of people talk about how those trust deserved to be broken up because they had too much economic power. But Teddy Roosevelt said we should break them up because they had too much political power. Teddy Roosevelt said break them up because all that concentrated power threatens the very foundations up our democratic system.
And now we’re watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of this country. And its attached to a bill that needs to pass or else we entire federal government will grind to a halt.
Think about that kind of power. If a financial institution has become so big and so powerful
that it can hold the entire country hostage. That alone is reason enough to break them up.
Enough is enough.
Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kind
of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch. Enough is enough with Citigroup passing 11th hour deregulatory provisions that nobody takes ownership over but everybody will come to regret. Enough is enough
Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists.
But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citigroup bet big on derivatives and lost? What about the families who are living paycheck to paycheck and saw their tax dollars go to bail out Citi just 6 years ago?
We were sent here to fight for those families. It is time, it is past time, for Washington to start working for them!
I was reading a Kurt Vonnegut book today called If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? Here are a few snippets from an address to Agnes Scott College, which is a women’s college. The piece is entitled Advice to Graduating Women (That All Men Should Know).
I am so smart I know what is wrong with our world. Everybody asks during and after our wars, and the continuing terrorist attacks all over the globe, “What’s gone wrong?”
What has gone wrong is that too many people, including high school kids and heads of state, are obeying the Code of Hammurabi, a King of Babylonia who lived nearly four thousand years ago. And you can find his code echoed in the Old Testament, too. Are you ready for this?
“And eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
A categorical imperative for all who live in obedience to the Code of Hammurabi, which includes heroes of every cowboy show and gangster show you ever saw, is this: Every injury, real or imagined, shall be avenged. Somebody’s going to be real sorry.
Bombs away – or whatever.
When Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, he said, ” Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” What kind of a man was that? Any real man, obeying the Code of Hammurabi, would have said, “Kill them, Dad, and all of their friends and relatives, and make their deaths painful.”
Revenge provokes revenge which provokes revenge which provokes revenge – forming an unbroken chain of death and destruction linking nations today to barbarous tribes of thousands and thousands of years ago.
We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on.
Fires, explosions. Come look. Oh my gosh – hey wow.
To quote the late Irving Berlin: “There’s no business like show business.”
It seems that not only in our response to slights, not only do we not take the high road, but our responses create the unbroken chain of violence that Mr. Vonnegut speaks of. One only has to look at the Iraq War and now the emergence of ISIS. It also seems as if our response is always disproportionate to the original slight.
I was reminded today, while reading this, of a show I used to watch as a kid. It was called Sledgehammer, and it was a spoof of the kind of over the top Dirty Harry character that always uses excessive force. I think the link to the video is a good metaphor for our foreign policy. In the clip the police are being shot at by a sniper. Rather than simply take the bad guy out, Sledgehammer pulls out a bazooka and blows up the entire building in which the sniper has his nest.
Oh my gosh – hey wow.
The above link is to a book in which I wrote a chapter of based on a speech that I gave in Costa Rica last year with my coauthor Abby Sandy. The chapter covers ocean acidification and the political group ALEC and is called Oceans for Sale. The book is called The Earth Charter, Ecological Integrity, and Social Movements. I realize this is shameless self promotion, but if you can’t brag at your first publishing, then when can you?!!!
The book was edited by Laura Westra and Mirian Vilela.