Or, the prophetic words of Old Crow Medicine Show, Rebecca Solnit, and Zac Efron…
I really like definitions 1 the state of being one; oneness, 2 a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one, 3 the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole, and 5 oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a numbers of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement, for this blog. Definition 4 absence of diversity, unvaried or uniform character has no place here.
I also like it when convergence happens…with people, situations, or even the media I consume. It happened a few days ago with a song I heard, a book I was reading, and a show I was watching on Netflix.
Converging Item 1
I was on a mountain road trip last week and decided to shuffle an old ITunes playlist. “We’re All in This Together” from Old Crow Medicine Show came on. Great song with relevant lyrics, here are a few lines:
Well my friends, I see your face so clearly
Little bit tired, little worn through the years
You sound nervous, you seem alone
I could sing these words to a lot of people I know. Tired, worn, and nervous are heavily used in a world of pandemics and contentious political seasons.
We’re all in this thing together
Walkin’ the line between faith and fear
And we are so divided right now…politically, religiously, economically, racially, nationally, practically. In this division we forget that what we have in common in far greater than what divides us. Superficiality clouds the most basic truth about us.1
Well my friend, let’s put this thing together
And walk the path with worn out feet of trod
But our situation is not unique in human history. People have been down this road before, and we can come out on the other side stronger and better.
All there is is a slow road to freedom
Heaven above and the devil beneath
To overcome, we will have to give up addiction to quick fixes and easy solutions. True reconciliation and progress is hard work.
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears
This closing line of the song is the prescription, more on this at the end..
Converging Item 2
I’m reading this book, and the subtitle of the book, “A Paradise Built in Hell” by Rebecca Solnit perfectly summarizes the whole:
The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster
She tells stories of the resiliency of humans and our great potential when we cooperate. All the stories are from disasters, natural and manmade:
- 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- 1917 Halifax, Nova Scotia explosion
- 1985 Mexico City earthquake
- 2001 9/11 attacks
- 2005 Hurricane Katrina
Widespread calamity causes us to temporarily forget the different shades of our brown skin, the number of trailing zeros in our bank accounts, our vote in the last election, and/or our status as believers or infidels. Disaster triggers something inside us that makes most of us think beyond ourselves and more communally and altruistically. I know because I have seen this up close and personally.
This book reveals the potential we have always had, we just have to walk the path that worn out feet have trod. We have to get close to, and love our neighbors.
Disaster has a way of moving us out of status quo (divided/apathetic) and towards unity.
Converging Item 3
When not listening to music or reading books, I watch a lot of Netflix. Concurrent with Old Crow Medicine Show and Rebecca Solnit, I was watching the Netflix series, “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.” I have rejected this series for a while because I have trouble detaching Zac from High School Musical.2 After a recommendation, I watched it, and loved it!
The episodes reveal some sort of societal problem and then explores communities of people that are pursuing a better way.
That’s the way of prophets and pilgrims…
Prophets call attention (sometimes in dramatic or offensive ways) to the problems at hand. Pilgrims lean into that problem and search for a better way, actively living the solution(s).
Despite all the bad news we are bombed with daily, there are people living well all over the world and we need to pay attention to their unity and progress.
We are wrong-headed to think that one man has the ability to make America great again, or that one man can undo the failures of the man trying to make us great.
For us to be great, it will take good people3 stirring from apathy and remembering what we have in common and remembering our human potential and remembering that diversity makes us strong and forgetting isolation and forgetting division and then dreaming and living into a better existence.4
The closing line of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “We’re All In This Together” is the simple first step:
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears.
Close enough to taste the salt in their tears means to be close to people, to know them, and look on without judgment but with care.
And it begins with me, and you.
We need to get outside of our comfort zones and isolation. We need to stop hiding our anger and fear behind the keyboard that fuels the social media account. And we need to start getting close to our neighbors/coworkers/fellow citizens again, even if they’re different.
When we live in Unity, we are living in step with the kingdom of God.
1 We humans have so much in common…ancestry, immigration, basic needs, basic desires, the same destiny. For more on this, Google the phrase, “what do all humans have in common” and start reading. Trump and Biden and Mother Teresa have more alike than different.
2 I have a daughter that watched High Musical, versions 1 through 17, over and over again. And thus my aversion to ZE, but that has changed now…
3 I’m not naïve, I understand there is evil in the world in many forms. But most of the people I know are good. Sure, most of us have our vision clouded by superficial things like where the best Mexican food is found (San Antonio or RGV), the best NFL team (none of the above), and which political party needs to be running the country (all of them – repubs, dems, libertarian, green, communist, constitution, etc.). Good people need to rouse out of apathy and isolation and engage society/culture/politics again.
4 This is what Jesus meant when he instructed his people to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There will be no anger, division, bitterness, isolation then and there. We need to practice now.
If you’ve made it this far, I’ve included some bonus material for you, a video of Old Crow Medicine Show, accompanied by Norah Jones, singing “We’re All In This Together.” I thought this song couldn’t get any better…