August 07, 2009

The song, the sigh of the weary

Stephen Foster, 1826-1864.

Stephen Foster was something like the Bruce Springsteen of the generation leading up to the Civil War. His songs were treasured North and South alike. One of them, Hard Times, seems particularly appropriate for today.

The chorus goes:

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Here’s a live version by Dylan by way of YouTube.

I’m not a big fan of motivational speakers and writers who offer cheap pep talks to people who are down. Such people often minimize misery or promote the fantasy that all wrongs will be righted. That won’t happen in this world, which is the only one we have direct knowledge of.

(Sorry about the preposition thing.)

Suffering of one kind or another is a part of life. Ancient Buddhists counted six major forms of it: birth, death, sickness, old age, having what you don’t want, and wanting what you don’t have. If you think about, that covers a pretty good bit.

Much of the suffering in the world today is unnecessary and could be vastly reduced or eliminated with more just social arrangements. Getting rid of that should be a top priority in public as well as private life.

But as Albert Camus wrote in a quote you may have seen here before,

“Man can master in himself everything that should be mastered. He should rectify in creation everything that can be rectified. And after he has done so, children will still die unjustly even in a perfect society. Even by his greatest effort man can only propose to diminish arithmetically the sufferings of the world. But the injustice and the suffering of the world will remain and, no matter how limited they are, they will not cease to be an outrage. Dmitri Karamazov’s cry of “Why?” will continue to resound…”

Still, that's no reason not to do what could be done.

GOOD NEWS FOR WV. Governor Manchin is calling a special session of the legislature to extend unemployment insurance by 20 weeks for those who have exhausted them. By acting now, the entire cost will be paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This will bring over $30 million to the state's economy and help those who need it most.

ASTROTHUGS. If you have high speed Internet and about 10 minutes, here's Rachel Maddow on the "grassroots" movement to kill health care reform. And here's more on the same from the Center for American Progress. And, while we're at it, here's more from the AFLCIO blog and yet more from Paul Krugman's blog and latest column.

A GOOD SUMMARY of what's at stake for health care can be found here.

IF YOU'RE FEELING AS IF YOU'RE CAUGHT UP IN A VAST LEFT WING CONSPIRACY, you can generate a Kenyan birth certificate for anyone you like here.

LOOKING BACK AT VIETNAM. Here's the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes From Under the Fig Tree, with a not so nostalgic look back at the 1960s.

META, El Cabrero is going to be furloughed for the next two weeks. Goat Rope will continue to appear on a regular basis but posts will have been prepared in advance and won't have links, comments or anything reflecting current events.


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