As a child, all of the adults who surrounded you, towered over you, said the same thing: Never lie. Lying is wrong.
In elementary school, you joined your classmates in singing:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
If you attended Sunday school, perhaps you heard that one of Jesus’ teachings was the riches of earth are temporary, that we should be seeking spiritual treasures rather than a private jet with your name emblazoned on the side.
And in your junior high history or social studies classes, you likely heard about the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
So what’s happened to all of that? We have a mentally unstable president who each day issues a torrent of demonstrably disprovable lies, while he lives a life of privilege built on corruption. We live in a land that was not made for you and me, but was made for the rich. And when people who yearn to breathe free come to our borders, we chase them away.
In our adult world, we do not live up to the standards that were set for us when we were young. Perhaps the United States never lived up to those standards, and we’re simply paying lip service to a vision of society that makes us feel better, but doesn’t actually exist.
It’s either over for Trump, or it’s over for us. Everywhere we turn, virtually every day now, we find smoking guns. Big ones. To quote Dirty Harry Callahan, his week’s revelations have been the equivalent of “this being a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”
We’re out of luck. Since the first speculation that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, I wondered: How would the Russians even know where to concentrate their efforts to affect the outcome? Wednesday we learned that Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, turned over campaign polling information to Russian citizens connected to the Russian government. What other possible reason is there for Manafort to do that, other than the Trump campaign was asking the Russians for help in defeating Hillary Clinton?
It’s called collusion. Treason, even.
You may call me naive, and insist that the world is a dangerous place full of terrorists, and the end justifies all means. I will call you delusional. All of these lies and all of this corruption and contempt for science and facts isn’t making us any safer. In fact, the new landscape of chaos and crisis is tearing apart our elections, our democracy, our trust in our leadership, and our trust in each other.
Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” actually had alternate versions over the years. It was re-written by Guthrie many times, verses were added, then eliminated. He wanted the song to project the right balance of warning against unchecked authority, yet faith in the common people.
And so it is, in this – yet another version – of an amusingly prescient verse written by Guthrie, a version I found yesterday on the internet:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.
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