I cant believe the news today
Oh, I cant close my eyes and make it go away
How long must we sing this song?
How long? how long...
cause tonight...we can be as one
Tonight we can be as one. Everyone, on both sides, can agree this never should have happened. Heavy stuff. Exactly the kind of stuff a child redneck needed to hear.
But it didn't end there. Around the time I would have seen my first black person, I got hit with "Pride (In The Name of Love)" Of course I didn't understand.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
But the obvious power and passion with which those words were delivered made me want to learn. It's a good thing for child rednecks to want to learn. And the more I learned the more I cherished those words. The words that were a rock thrown against the wall of injustice that was built, guarded and made unchangeable by the powerful and privileged. Fine. They can keep it. There are things that are more important, even at the expense of your life. They never took Dr. King's pride.
But it didn't end there. In college the child redneck caught "Rattle and Hum," the flick, as a Saturday night midnight movie. If you don't watch any other part of this video, watch the segment that starts at 3:49
"And let me tell you something. I've had enough of Irish-Americans, who haven't been back to their country in 20 or 30 years, come up to me, and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution, and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution!
They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What's the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where's the glory in that? Where's the glory in bombing a remembrance day parade of old-age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day? Where's the glory in that? To leave them dying, or crippled for life, or dead under the rubble, of a revolution, that the majority of the people of my country, don't want.......No more!!!!"
The child redneck decided not to sell his soul to the ROTC for college money after seeing that flick. No more. Jesus, Mary and Joseph I will never forget the atmosphere in that theater as that movie ended. I would not be in the ROTC, I would be in an army of 20 year olds who were soon to be unleashed on the world who would put up with no more. We were young, we were energy, and God Dammit, things were gonna change.
I soon thereafter sold my soul to retail pharmacy and started to meekly fill prescriptions. U2 soon thereafter released "Achtung Baby" a fine but noticeably meeker record.
My next U2 crowd experience came in Los Angeles almost 12 years later. I looked around and saw the army of the young and impassioned had become the sportcoat wearing paunchy and balding, waving to their friends on the other side of the arena while using their cellphone. George W. Bush was president, and he was about to show the nation the glory of invading a country that did not attack us. The music had been neutered. I think that night was the first time I felt old. Maybe the next generation.....
This isn't a sad story though, because I want to show you something else before I go. Two things actually. One is an excerpt from the eulogy of Robert Kennedy:
"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Keep those words in mind as you watch this. As you watch those words that would never be any more than a rock thrown against the permanent, entrenched wall of injustice imposed by the privileged and forever guarded. As you watch the occasion on which those words were being sung.
We managed to send out a few ripples, didn't we? We can send out a few more before we're done.