It’s A Hard Life

Some weeks ago, when I posted in response to the terrorist bombings in Brussels, I titled my piece after what I had always known, until then, as a Nanci Griffith song, although it was actually written by Julie Gold  – From A Distance. I had been listening to music as I often do, as a lot of truth is spoken in song lyrics and the words of that song resonated with me. One of her own songs also came to mind, and it was a bit of a toss up which one I used to illustrate my post. I chose that one as it made my point for me, and the other song has a wider meaning which I thought I might revisit as a companion piece. Having been kept away from here by illness it has taken me longer than I intended to do this, but this is the other song I had in mind:

Nanci Griffith was born four months before me so, although we have grown up in different countries we have to a degree shared our experience of the world and all its changes. In the song she references growing up in the 60s which, when we look back now, was a tumultuous decade, which in many ways has shaped our lives now: the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Cold War in Europe, student demonstrations, and the massive changes in popular culture. But what have we we learned from all of this? The song’s chorus goes:

It’s a hard life, it’s a hard life, it’s a very hard life,

It’s a hard life wherever you go,

But if we poison our children with hatred

then a hard life is all that they’ll know.

Look around you. What does the news tell us? Have we learnt the lessons of recent history? That song was released in the late 80s, but more than 25 years later it seems to me that we continue to poison our children with hatred. The obvious example of this is Donald Trump, who now looks very likely to be the Republican candidate in the forthcoming US Presidential election. Despite his recent appointment of some spin doctors it is difficult to forget some of the rhetoric he has used during his campaign, and the way that it has demonstrated a position built on racism, bigotry and hatred. As I have said several times before, I fear for the world if he should become President, and hope that doesn’t happen.

But the issue I want to draw to your attention is far greater than just one man, however odious he may be. Next month, we in the UK will be voting in a referendum to decide whether we remain a member of the European Union. In recent years the main (only) political party of any note to espouse this cause has been the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which, by the actions of its members and its beer swilling, chain smoking leader, has largely come across as a bunch of racist buffoons. But here we are, in the midst of a campaign which seems to become nastier by the day, and in which much of the language used seems to be based on bigotry and hatred, of Little Englander perspectives. And we have always had our far right parties, going back to Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in the 1930s, via the National Front and British National Party in  more recent times. Another current incarnation is Britain First, which was started by someone who was thrown out of the BNP for being too extreme (!) and which makes UKIP look like a credible political organisation.

And this isn’t confined to the UK, either. All over Europe there are similar political parties and movements. France has long had the Le Pen family leading the Front Nationale. Italy has the Northern League, which is anti-immigration. Germany has the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) which began life as an economic movement but has jumped on the racist angle and is getting huge increases in public support as a result. Similar groupings exist in Spain and Austria, amongst others. Flip the coin and you have ISIS, or Daesh, or whatever we are supposed to call it. Then there was Al Qaeda. And in North Africa there is the Boko Haram group, amongst others. Everywhere you look you see organisations based on hatred, and the worrying thing is that they are generating huge amounts of support.

What are we doing to ourselves? Not content with destroying the planet, we appear to be trying to solve that problem by destroying ourselves from within first. In the song, Nanci Griffith references the KKK and the racial hatred for which it stands. Her song was inspired by a taxi trip around Belfast, which at that time was still a city divided by religious and political terrorism. Towards the end she mentions that she ‘can’t drive on the left side of the road.’ For the uninitiated, we in the UK drive on the left-hand side of the road, although most of the world does it the other way. Her choice of metaphor is very apt: it is about time that we all started to learn to drive on the other side of the road. We have poisoned our children with hatred for far too long.

 

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27 thoughts on “It’s A Hard Life

  1. I’m sorry about your turmoil over “there” and I’m frightened by our turmoil over “here” in the USA. Over half our population is in shake your head in disbelief and the nighttime comics have the greatest supply of material they’ve ever had. Even when they used to make fun of George Bush (the son). He was amusing as he smiled and laughed his way through the presidency. I couldn’t wait for him to be gone but my goodness. I’d take him over Trump any day. At least he is an honest and sane person. So, I suppose we’ll just watch the daily news and pray he hasn’t gotten everybody in over their heads with international issues. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s genuinely worrying. You have a President who is everything a President shouldn’t be, we have a Government hell bent on destroying everything good about our country. And in both cases the electorate is too stupid to vote against them. We can but hope. Thanks for following, I’ve returned the compliment 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, Clive – thanks for posting (and reposting). Unfortunately, the unthinkable has now happened, and has more supporters than I would ever have believed.

    What is left for us now – those of us with cooler heads and a more loving come-from – is to choose how to react and “revolt.”

    Fear and hatred will ONLY make things worse – we must dedicate ourselves to finding a better way to navigate through a truly hateful storm of events.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Madelyn. It feels a little like the novel Lord of the Flies: scratch away the outer veneer of society and we’re feral underneath. I just hope that common sense will prevail and the many who have been duped come to realise this

      Liked by 1 person

      • PERFECT analogy and manner of expression, Clive. I have come to believe that the only way that the many who are trapped by cognitive dissonance will be able to allow themselves to see clearly is to understand clearly that they bought into many lies.

        Yes, they have been duped – but the truth is that they also did little to no due diligence and fact checking – voting impulsively for an impulsive man-child.

        It is SO much harder to realize you have been complicit – and more likely that you will dig in and defend to avoid feeling stupid.

        I believe that’s what we’re facing right now, as it becomes more and more clear that America has made a HUGE mistake.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s never easy to admit that you have made a big mistake, is it? Hopefully they will realise in their droves and the nightmare can be brought to an end. I’m rooting for impeachment! And thanks for reminding me of SNL’s spoof ad for Ivanka’s ‘new perfume’ 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think ANY sane and thinking individual can think of Agent Orange as anything by the horror he most certainly is! I do believe that ridiculing idiots is the most effective way to knock some wind out of their bluster.

        I wish the press corp would all agree to laugh like maniacs every time he proposes something new and stupid.

        Blink, btw, was on top of the site where your link took me – but that turned out to be a good thing, because I wasn’t already following Clare, even though we’ve interacted in comments.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • The press corps probably haven’t had time to shut their mouths, open in amazement, before he and Spicer et al move on to the next lie, stupidity or whatever! I’m loving the way they all contradict each other on his reason for sacking Comey – he has even contradicted himself! He’s a bully and an idiot.

        I thought you might have followed the link I gave you. Do follow Clare’s blog – you won’t regret it 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am now following – and BOY do we agree on what’s happening politically. I, too, am praying for impeachment, but I want the Pencil to go at the same time. I believe he is even more dangerous than AO because he is far more calculating.

        I actually wonder if the “wrong” wanted the Veep for the top job but knew he couldn’t win it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the plan was for the Orange one to step down from the beginning, and now he won’t leave.

        I thought I DID click the link you gave me – I’ll try it again.
        xx,
        mgh
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • I knew you’d be kindred spirits! You’re right about Pence – he is even further to the right and appears to have avoided being tainted by association. No rumours about him that I’m aware of. It won’t get any better even if Drumpf is impeached!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had run across her comments a few times, but never followed her blog, for some reason (probably distraction – lol).

        I want to sleep through the next 4 years, but I also believe that we will need to keep pressure on Congress or things will worsen. I have a lot of hope riding on the interim election.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    This post from this day last year has just popped up in my Timehop. Reading again what I wrote, I’m struck by my thoughts. At that time the British referendum on leaving the EU had still to take place, and the Orange One was looking likely to secure the Republican nomination but hadn’t quite got it yet. I shared my concerns and fear for the way our world was going.

    A year on, and the unthinkable has happened – twice! Our referendum has been decided, with what I fear will be disastrous results, and Drumpf has gone from being racist clown to racist clown President. If you have a moment, do take a look at last year’s words: it isn’t getting any better, is it?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The brainwashing and poisoning starts by parents imbuing their children with their own beliefs. Children should be left alone to make up their own minds on religion, politics and in fact everything else!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. To quote Hillary (the person with the hardest job in the world!), we should be building bridges, not walls. Maybe this message will somehow seep through. We all have our hate-mongers, and Canada is no different, but in some countries, this sentiment is allowed to grow and prosper. I hoped it wasn’t happening in England.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Clive the world needs more people like you to write the truth about the only way to live on this planet is with mutual respect for our differences and to teach our children that same respect. As Oscar Hammerstein wrote back in the 1940’s “you have to be very carefully taught to hate”.

    Liked by 2 people

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