First of all, I just wasn’t feeling well. I feared the stomach bug was returning and I was shivering out of my boots. But I decided I was going to tough it out and go about my daily business – which included collecting a grandchild from school and going to a Trustees meeting later in the evening. Rain was falling on the windshield as I pulled out of the garage – a soothing sound. Automatically I leaned over and turned on the radio – All Things Considered. First, there was the update on the on-going tragedy of the Mediterranean Migration; then there was the up-coming anniversary of the genocide (or slaughter, depending on the politics of the conversation) of Armenians. All things considered? It seemed to me as if only the most horrific things were being considered and I just couldn’t take it. I turned the station to some mindless music. Except …
A song was playing by The Who.
Anybody here see the noise
See the fear and commotion?
I think we missed it
Anybody here see the love
See the hate, being motioned?
My gosh, I thought to myself, the bad news – the terror and sadness and endless litany of violence and hatred has infected the pop music genre! I listened as All The Bad Things Considered was being sung to me in a 2009 pop song.
Don’t give me no hand me down shoes, they sang. Don’t give me no hand me down love, they bellowed out of the radio. And then: Don’t give me no hand me down world – Got one already.
They sang about the sky weeping tears. Can anybody see it, they asked. Or was it a plea? My sickness seemed to take a turn. Am I sick of this ‘hand me down world’? Am I weary not so much of the bad news as I am of the inevitability of it all? If even the pop stations are cranking out the prophetic lament, well … what am I going to listen to?
The song played itself out. I listened and I tried to breathe deep. Can I shut the whole thing out? There was a touch of nausea in me as I leaned over and turned off the radio. Can I ignore what everyone seems to be screaming about and no one seems able to do anything to change?
What is the world I am handing down to my grandchildren?
With much knowledge comes much grief. So writes the philosopher / teacher in Ecclesiastes. All things are wearisome; more than one can express. That’s the truth, I thought to myself as the wipers sang and danced their fwap fwap fwap on the windshield.
But then … another text came to mind, this one from the prophet Habakkuk.
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength; God makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.
I was about to pick up my grandson. I’m going to tough this nausea out, I said to myself, sitting up a bit in the driver’s seat. I’m either going to be joyful and play with him, or I’m going to puke all over him.
I turned the radio back on and tuned in to All Things Considered …
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The Who – “Hand Me Down World“