Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Work For Peace

I was listening recently to "Work For Peace" by Gil Scott-Heron. This 1994 release of the 1970's "proto-rapper" is profoundly prophetic as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to dog us. Furthermore, the military-industrial complex and our government's funding priorities are even worse than when Mr. Heron sang about them.
The Military and the Monetary,
get together whenever they think its necessary,
They turn our brothers and sisters into mercenaries,
they are turning the planet into a cemetery.

The Class of 2000 at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute might remember when I performed his "Revolution will not be televised" at senior farewell. Though the sound on the mic was too low, people said they never saw an audience in that auditorium so quietly listening to the words of the speaker. Afterwards I remember that my old English teacher Ms. Bowie congratulated me on the performance saying something to the effect "That was my joint back in college."

I cannot help thinking that I should have performed "Work for Peace" instead. While less belligerently militant and exciting, the message is equally revolutionary and contains a much sharper analysis. I could have broken up some of the more boring parts of the hook by letting Justin have more time to play on the turn tables with some Gil Scott-Heron and Common records.

I tried to channel that 2000 performance at Poly again on March 5th 2003 when I performed the poem without a microphone to gather a crowd for the "Student Strike" antiwar protest at University of Maryland, College Park.

Perhaps this hindsight of my own reflects a growth or maturation, much like the artist's (Gil Scott-Heron) own growth from 1970 to 1994. The revolutionary fire that motivated him threatened to overcome him, but his experiences opened up a path to liberation that he may not have considered revolutionary 20 years before.

As Scott-Heron points out,
If everyone believed in Peace the way they say they do,
we'd have Peace.
The only thing wrong with Peace,
is that you can't make no money from it.

I wanted to incite people when I performed "Revolution," but where does incitement lead us without wisdom to put that energy to work? Where are we gonna be 20 years from now? Are we going to be "working for peace" like all of those people out there "working for war." How do we incite our neighbors to become dedicated to work for peace, justice and community?
Nobody can do everything,
but everybody can do something,
everyone must play a part,
everyone got to go to work, Work for Peace.
Spirit Say Work, Work for Peace
If you believe the things you say, go to work.
If you believe in Peace, time to go to work.
Cant be wavin your head no more, go to work.

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