If I Had A Voice

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February 10, 2021

If I Had A Voice    

I am partly “who I am, because of where I was when” (thank you Tom Peters). I was influenced by the culture of my childhood. That culture was greatly influenced by World War II and the Korean Conflict (Korean WAR to those who fought in it). As I was entering early adulthood, the cultural shift was being driven by the “Police Action” (WAR) in Viet Nam. A very popular movie in the early fifties (and still is even today) was the Wizard of Oz. The focus of the story was not whether of not Dorothy and Todo would get back to Kansas, but the many limits of “if…” The Tin Man could do… “if he only had a heart”. The Scarecrow could answer this…. “if he had a brain”. The Lion wouldn’t be so afraid “if he only had courage”. Dorothy and Todo would go home “if only she knew the way”. “Spoiler Alert!!” (If you have never seen the movie and intend to in the future, you may want to skip this part.) After a long series of adventures that ultimately lead the four (five when you count Todo) characters back to Oz to receive the “prize” they earned by eliminating the “Wicked Witch of the West”; only to discover that the “Wizard” was nothing more than a man behind a curtain talking into a microphone.

To say the least, the four characters were greatly angered by the “betrayal” of the Wizard, that he couldn´t deliver as he had promised he would if…. The deeper message of the Wizard, and of the story, was that everything each was looking for, they had already possessed. The Tin Man had a “heart” because he loved, he cared about others, he just didn´t have the “outward trapping” – a heartbeat, so the Wizard gave him a ticking clock. The Scarecrow demonstrated great intelligence, but lacked the “outward trapping” – recognition, so the Wizard gave him a diploma. The Wizard reminded the Lion that “courage” was not, not being afraid, but doing what was right and necessary anyways. The Lion lacked the “outward trapping” of courage, so the Wizard gave him a medal. Dorothy was looking for “someone else” to get her home, and the Wizard had no answer, no “quick remedy”. Enter the “Good Witch of the North” to instruct Dorothy that she had the power to return within herself, she only needed to “click her heels and repeat – I want to go home.”

A major factor of the culture of the 1950’s was the attitude of “self-reliance”. A major part of what Dr. Spock was trying to drive home, was that individuals (all of us) have within themselves a specific nature that should be allowed to develop naturally. We didn’t need to become a doctor, lawyer, baker, or Indian Chief just because we were “told to be”. With all of the short-comings Dr. Spock’s theories brought forth, the idea of personal responsibility for our actions is still an important lesson for this generation and every generation.

Growing up in the post WWII and post Korean War, we were “brainwashed” if you will by Hollywood to think that war was somehow “glamorous”. The great movie stars like John Wayne, Robert Mitchem, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Lee Marvin, etc. filled the silver screens with images of heroic battles, great triumphs, and sterile killings. When I graduated high school in 1964, I wanted to join the Navy, to “fight the cowardly Commies” anywhere in the world. It was bad eyes, and circumstances that kept me out of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. In 1970, when I completed my electrical apprenticeship, and my deferment ended, it was the first year of the “Draft Lottery”. For those born on my birthday – October 17 – our number was 289. Even though my draft status was then 1-A, I was not going to be drafted. But, by 1970, the Viet Nam War was not portrayed as a “great and glorious war”. People were finding out that the government had no real interest in winning the war, that the government was lying to the public; shameful yes, but more shameful than that, the government was lying to the brave men and women giving up their lives for an ideal that was unsupported.

During the mid-sixties and forward, there was a great movement in the American youth to not trust “government”, but to seek truth and justice elsewhere. Many who are my age, might remember the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. They were very popular in the mid sixties and early seventies, but did not have the staying power of the Beatles. One of the more popular folk songs by Peter, Paul, and Mary was: If I Had A Hammer. The great limiter “if” pops up its head again. If I had a hammer, I could hammer our justice; if I had a bell, I could ring out freedom; and if I had a song to sing, I would sing about love for my brothers and sisters all throughout the land. “IF…”

Today, I am reflecting on the idea that “if I had a voice”, what would I say. I know the reality, that I do possess the physical ability to speak. I have a rather loud voice (partly because I am hard of hearing”. But in many ways, I do not have a voice. The number of those who read by blog articles is rather small, over the years of the thousand plus articles I have written and published in various bulletins and on blog sites, I have reached a very small audience. I ask myself sometimes if what I have to say makes any difference. It is like the question: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it make any noise? If nobody hears my “voice” am I making a difference?

So, I begin my own “song – story – challenge” with the great limiter: If I had a voice…

If I had a voice, I would tell the United States Senate that they are not debating the guilt or innocence of Donald Trump. They are debating whether or not America really believes in its self-promoted ideals of Truth, Democracy, and Justice. If I had a voice, I would tell every Senator that it is not just the voter in their constituency that is watching, that is waiting for an answer, it is the world as well. If I had a voice, I would ask if we as a nation stand behind our convictions or capitulate to the whim of populism? From the very first day of Trump’s election in November of 2016, he has only demonstrated the desire of “power” and never the weight of humble service. Mr. Trump has never shown any care for the truth, any respect for different ideas, nor regard for genuine service. Since John F. Kennedy, only the late President George H. Bush has ever had any combat experience. Former President Jimmy Carter was a Naval officer in a “peace time navy”. The late President Ronald Reagan served in the Army making movies. But none, not veterans nor those who never “served” ever denounced nor demeaned the sacrifice our men and women made in the service and protection of our American ideals. That is none until President Trump!

If I had a voice, I would tell the Senate that the impeachment of Trump is a declaration of our commitment as a nation to demand responsibility from every level of government, including the President. The world is watching and waiting, America is watching and waiting. The sacredness of our democratic republic is only secure when it is of higher value than political expediency or ambition. If I had a voice, I would remind you that the heart of the politician must focus on truth, the wisdom of congress must find itself in principle, and courage is to do the right thing because it is the right thing. If I had a voice, Donald Trump would be convicted if the Senate has the courage of a lion!