Sunday, January 10, 2010

The People Speak

If you get a chance, check out the great program called The People Speak on the History Channel. From the website:

"Democracy is not a spectator sport. Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice. Narrated by Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted."

Famous actors including Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortenson, etc. do readings and musical artists such as Eddie Vedder and Bob Dylan perform. The show we watched aired a few weeks ago but I'm sure they'll re-air it a few times.

The readings are powerful because they are words of real people that lived through the famous events of our past but may not have been on the side of the "victors" or the government. The histories we learn in school ultimately have a particular slant and don't necessarily give all sides. Zinn's book and this program try to just give a little perspective.

One of my favorite performances was Eddie Vedder's singing of Bob Dylan's Masters of War:

"Masters Of War" by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.


Laura said...

I'll have to record this, sounds really interesting.

Democracy is not a spectator sport - well said

Scott said...

Democracy is rule or be ruled. Surely we can do better.

dbackdad said...

"Surely we can do better." - Indeed.