The latest issue of Tikkun arrived today. I really enjoy this magazine. The cover states, "Hope is Back! Democratic victories in Congress give Spiritual Progressives a powerful opportunity to influence public discourse in the next two years." This is the title of editor Michael Lerner's lead article. It's great stuff and worth the time to read.
But, in this season of hope, the season of Advent. What really gives me hope is the Grammy nominations. Oh, you say, you must have really gone nuts. Why in the world would any of us have any interest in the Grammy's? Well, The Dixie Chicks have 4 nominations; Record of the Year, Not Ready to Make Nice, Album of the Year, Taking the Long Way, Song of the Year, Not Ready to Make Nice, and County Album, Taking the Long Way.
You remember the Chicks don't you? At the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, outspoken lead singer, Natalie Maines, made the remark at a concert in London that she was ashamed that President Bush is from her home State of Texas.
Immediately, their number one hit dropped off the charts. Country stations quit playing their music. Maines life was threatened. She received a death threat for a concert in Dallas. Police took the threat serious enough that they tried to talk her into cancelling the concert. She wouldn't do that so they at least convinced her to wear a bullet proof vest.
In a documentary film about the struggle that followed, Shut up & Sing, one man is filmed saying, "Yes, I believe in freedom of speech, but not in public."
What in the world?
A few weeks ago the Chicks came to the Phoenix area and my wife just had to go. It was awesome. There were some estimates that the arena would be half empty. Never mind that, it was nearly full. And the Chicks were just incredible. They sang full volume with deep intensity for two full hours. Everyone got their monies worth. It looked to me that they have more new fans than old country ones.
That may have to do with their new Southern country rock approach - or could have something to do with that people in America actually do believe in free speech. Whatever the case. Real hope lies in the possibility that the Chicks could win Country Album of the Year for an Album that still gets zero play from Country stations. I guess Country fans don't believe in free speech - oh yea, only if it's not in public.
I intend to watch the Grammy's with honest interest.
While I really like Michael Lerner, and I understand and mostly agree with what he writes in his article - I would suggest though that hope was never gone - we just didn't have the courage to activate it in our own lives.
Hope allows us to be prophetic, to speak our own mind and to take the risks whether intended or otherwise. Hope involves risk - not certainty - or even possibility - hope is to step into the dark and trust that maybe, change can and will happen.