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  • Reverend James Squire

Where Is Bob Dylan When We Need Him?

Updated: Feb 14, 2021



During the recent election and follow up challenges by Trump, where are the composers and singers of protest songs to awaken the American people and proclaim the pain of the Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement? Trump has used some of the music that fit his need during his campaign, but never asked for permission to do so and has been sued by the musicians each time that he has done that.


I am a product of the sixties and still remember being moved by the anthems for freedom. I could not be part of the Flower Power Movement as it was not a working class phenomenon. The movement touched deeply into our psyches and souls, however, because of the sounds of the voices who shared with others the rhythm of war and unrest. They moved the hearts of people and became more important than many addresses that were spoken with the exception of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.


Why no song for 2020 about our struggle? Recall a few of the 60(s) classics: “Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, and the anthem of the 60(s), “We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger. Perhaps the most songs were created by Bob Dylan such as “The Times They Are A-Changin’, and Blowin’ in the Wind.”


So where is our Bob Dylan for 2020, the worst year that Americans have experienced in some time? I have a nomination for the anthem of 2020. It is “Big Yellow Taxi” sung by Joni Mitchell that included the phrase, “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone”. We recall as well that poignant line from Amazing Grace, that “Once I was lost but now am found”. If there is one word that describes our lives during this challenging year, it is the word “loss”. If there is anything positive that could come of this year, it is that we have appreciated more who we have and what we have in our lives. This has been true for the increasing numbers of deaths due to the Pandemic and the deaths that have spurred others on to fight racism in all of its forms in the Black Lives Matter Movement.


Those are the big losses but there have been other losses that have been part of our daily lives that have taught us to appreciate more the things that are now missing. That has taken on the form of a loss of security regarding the jobs that we had, the food that we had, the place where we were living, and the health that we took for granted. It included the schools we attended, and the open spaces outside as well.


If there is a gift to us from 2020 it is the realization to never take anything for granted including the day that we have before us and the loved ones in our lives. We will never take for granted the courage of all who helped us move forward through the Pandemic. We will never take for granted those who spoke the words and did the deeds to never take for granted the struggle of people who may be different from us regardless of race, religion, class, or sexual orientation. We took our democracy for granted until it was put in jeopardy by others who refused to acknowledge our election of a new Administration.


Judith Viorst wrote a book, Necessary Losses, that helped me to see life as a series of gains and losses. Perhaps this is the way that we need to frame our lives moving forward. Viorst wrote, “I have learned in the course of our life that we leave and are left and let go of much that we love. Losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much of our growth and gain. There is plenty that we have to give up to grow. For we cannot deeply love anything without becoming vulnerable to loss.”


The Christian faith is based in loss as well when we hear the words “Anyone who finds his life will lose it, anyone who loses his life because of Me will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)


We cannot lose, whether it be a big or small loss, without a sense of grief. We grieve for that which we leave behind. As we leave the pain of 2020, we must let that grief transform us to a gain from everything that we lost. I have not seen a better description of all grief, big or small, than that by Dr. Colin Murray Parks:


Grief never ends, but it changes

It is a passage. Not a place to stay

Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor

a lack of faith.

It is the price of love.





2020


What was your loss?

What was your gain?

What caused you pain?

Where was the love that you found in between?


James Squire










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