Thursday, February 24, 2011


All of my life, I've heard people complaining that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Even now I hear that all the time. If you bother to crack open any history book, you will find that exact same complaint going back to the beginnings of recorded history. Even at the height of Periclean Athens, a writer known only as "The Old Oligarch" complained about Athens going to hell in a handbasket under the rule of Pericles and his faction. Savonarola built a political career by pointing out how Renaissance Florence was going to hell in a handbasket.

The world is always going to hell in a handbasket, and yet, it never quite gets there.

Below is one of my all time favorite allegories of Liberty. It's the back of the Double Eagle gold coin designed by the great sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens in the late 19th century. Liberty, with blowing unbound hair standing before the rising sun, offers us the torch of Liberty. With her left hand, she holds the olive branch of Peace.

Today, it seems that people have taken Liberty's torch and run with it all over the world. The whole Middle East is on fire with it, and the tyrants are trembling before its light. Liberty's fire refuses to die in Asia, in Burma, in oligarchic China, in Singapore, and even in the darkness of North Korea. Liberty's flames are starting to spread into sub-Saharan Africa where the people of Cameroon are starting to challenge the rule of their entrenched President-For-Life.

In the United States where the passion for Liberty was long asleep, lost in a coma of greed and ambition exploiting prejudices and conflicts, the fires stir again as people no longer passively accept the erosion of their rights by a powerful corporate oligarchy. Resistance to a naked grab for power at the expense of the rights of working people to organize and bargain collectively began in Wisconsin and is now starting to spread to Indiana, Ohio, and beyond.

The cause of my own kind, of LGBT people, continues to win victories and to make progress that I thought unimaginable just 10 years ago.

I am so grateful to be alive to see such things.

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!" --Wordsworth

To celebrate the mighty events of our time, here is an encore on this blog of a mighty work of music played on a mighty instrument. The organists who follow my Facebook page love all the organ mechanics on this video.


susan s. said...

Even some of us non-organists love the mechanics. But I wish I could be in the room, sitting on a pew that is directly connected with the 32 and 64 ft pipes that rattle my bones!

Liberte! Egalite!! Fraternite!!!

Leonard said...

You got me going (too)!

I linked to this, Thanks,


JCF said...

"But to be young was very heaven!"

Well, it always is---but you never realize it till you're not (And then you remember back to the first time you thought you were "not young", and think how YOUNG you were at that time! And so on. ;-/)

Just glad to live long enough to see more of MLK's "Arc"!

David G. said...

The DuPonts living room, oh how I wish!!