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Friday
Apr022010

Discord

 Copyright © 2010 by Carol Jean Shriver


                 Photo Copyright © 2010 by Robert Hewitt


"People can you feel it?  
Love is everywhere!" 

No I did not feel it, and no, love is not everywhere, and if it was at the United Palace Theatre in Manhattan on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 where the Allman Brothers Band were telling us it should be, it was well hidden.  

"People can you feel it? Love is everywhere!" repeated over and over. It was like a hammer on my head. I was in the balcony where almost everyone was seated still as a photograph. Maybe they felt the love in the orchestra section, but I have my doubts. A few people were standing in the balcony, trying to feel it. I tried to feel it too, but I just could not. I felt annoyed by the song, but mostly I just felt sad and wished it would end.  

"Revival (Love is Everywhere)" was written in 1970 by the Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts. It played on the radio for years like a broken record, but at least it was the 70s. The dreams from what we now call "The 60s" woke up and climbed into reality in the 1970s, and a lot of that reality was just wild and crazy. A song that kept demanding us to feel love everywhere still made some sense playing in the background throughout the 1970s, especially after the Vietnam War ended.  

A song like "Revival" could make sense now, in 2010, maybe in a church. The song's title, "Revival," certainly indicates its intention to try and make us feel something we have forgotten how to feel. Manhattan's United Palace Theatre does in fact function as a church when it is not a performance venue, but those who were there to hear the Allman Brothers were probably not thinking too much about this.  

As "Revival" closed the first set I felt relieved that the song was over. People noisily got up to go to the bathroom or visit with their friends, just like any other concert. The beer drinkers got more beer. Some people stayed in their seats.  

My lingering inner discord from the demands of "Revival" was temporarily eased with the opening song of the second set. Howlin' Wolf's "I Asked For Water (She Brought Me Gasoline)" was sung by James Blood Ulmer who also accompanied with guitar. It is a song about loss, grief, and pain. James Blood Ulmer sang it with pain, and all the guitars were in pain. Listening to it made me feel much better. From what I observed of the audience, I think it made a lot of people feel better. Even the musicians on stage seemed to feel better.   

I am not writing this as a critique of the show. The Allman Brothers are extraordinary, their rich and meaningful history and accomplishments are inarguable. I am writing this because I cannot stop thinking about how wrong it felt to hear "Revival" and how right it felt to hear "I Asked For Water (She Brought Me Gasoline)."      

When the show ended and the lights came on, everyone got up and made their way out of the theater. People were scattering back to their lives. The party was over. I stepped out into the cold. I'm not sure I got what I came for. I'm not sure what I was even looking for. I usually do not feel this way after a concert. Maybe it was just me who felt this way. "People can you feel it? Love is everywhere!" still paced in the back of my head. Maybe that was the problem. 

I see the suffering in this country and the world. I see the corruption that is everywhere. There is so much that is wrong. I have fought my own horrible battles, and struggled not to become jaded. I know how subzero it truly is for so many people who are really struggling, people for whom going to a concert is not even on their radar, people who think I am rich for being able to afford to pay for a ticket to any live performance. When I am on my way to a concert and I see a homeless guy in the train station with cardboard shoes, it scrambles my head.  

Studies have shown that people who go to live performances on a regular basis live longer healthier lives. This is attributed to the healthy release of emotions that takes place when you go to a performance. But I felt a chill as I left the United Palace Theatre. It was not just the night air. It seemed to me that some sort of collective cold from inside had followed me outside. I pushed this out of my mind, preferring to believe that I must be projecting my own feelings onto everyone else.  

While riding the train home, a fellow concert attendee recognized my companion and me as also having been to the concert. Instead of talking about the concert we all talked about what stops we were getting off at. He was going all the way to the last stop. He said he has a house out there, as if the house were a woman he wasn't sure he could afford. Then he told us about his business. He makes furniture. I said I was in the market for a new desk, one with lots of space. He said his business only makes very high-end made-to-order furniture for very wealthy people. I was not offended. I wouldn't want to look high-end anyway.  

He continued. This guy was in the mood to talk about things on his mind and the biggest thing on his mind was his business and how dramatically orders have dropped. He said he couldn't believe it, never thought it would come to this, that even the wealthy people were buying "crap" from China. He said, "It's a throw-away society all up the line!" Nobody wants quality anymore he said. Nobody wants to spend the money.  

He said he usually takes at least a month off in the winter and goes to the Caribbean, but not this year, he has to stay for the business. It occurred to me that maybe the real reason was that he just could not afford the trip, but I kept quiet.  

Clearly this guy was disturbed by what was happening in the world. He said, "I'm a dinosaur!" And he was clearly scared of becoming extinct. It occurred to me that it had probably occurred to him that he might have to leave his nice home, start over somewhere else, but he had no idea where he would go or what he would do. He didn't say any of this, but it ran through my mind. 

Normally, I would not feel badly for a guy like that. But he seemed like a good guy, he was proud of his work, and he talked about his employees with respect. And now he feared that it was all going to come to an end. 

As I listened to him I started to think that maybe the chill I had felt at the concert really was a shared experience, and not just my own. This guy on the train had nothing to say about the concert we all had just been to. Instead all he could talk about was how much things had changed for the worse. I imagined that this guy on the train was probably at least as annoyed by "Revival" as I was.  

Now is much different than 1970. Now "The 70s" seem like the dream. Now is a place none of us could have imagined. Isn't that always the way it is? Now, in 2010, love is definitely not everywhere. I look at people's eyes on a train or in the street and I see fear and desperation, or a vacant stare. Most people look exhausted.  

But through the haze of exhaustion, even though most people are just trying to get through the day, it seems to me that everyone is aware on some level that the world is entering into a new era, not a revolution, but a crisis of epic proportions. It is like dull background noise that keeps getting louder. That is what I feel, and I have no idea what to really do about it. I'm exhausted too. I know the best are doing their best, and the worst, well, they got us into this mess, didn't they? It is hard to know who to trust.    

People are distrustful of government, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, banks, schools, supermarkets, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, cable companies, phone companies, Internet providers, cell phone companies, car companies, any product made anywhere, the food supply, the water, the police, and the United States Postal Service. 

As the situation grows worse, people start thinking more of their own survival. Be sure and check your grocery bags and make sure nothing is missing before you leave the grocery store because even the cashiers are skimming you because they could use the extra cash.  

People can you feel it? Distrust is everywhere. 

I meet a lot of people who tell me about their health problems. Sometimes people talk about their bodies the way they talk about their cars. They casually tell me something like, "My doctor tells me I have a leaky valve." I say, "That may be fixable." They say, "My insurance won't cover it," or "I can't take any time off from work." If the person is driving a nice car and lives in a nice house, I say, "If you don't get it fixed, you may not be able to work." 

Then the look comes. They finally make eye contact with me and it is not good. They are scared. Really scared. They have not made the shift in priorities yet. They still think we live in a world where if you can have a nice house and a nice car, then you should also be able to have a job that gives you time off for medical procedures and health insurance that covers everything. Some people can still have all of this, but increasingly more people cannot. "Spend your money on your body," I say, "and feel lucky that you can." 

We also worry about the health of our planet. Some people worry more than others, but no matter how hard we might try to deny or hide from it, the biggest collective fear of all that can no longer be ignored is the fact that we have, as a species, put into motion the destruction of our planet.  

The only thing that could make it right again would be some unimagined technology, and over a thousand years of leaving the earth alone to recover. We are the first people alive on earth to experience this realization, to know that this is the legacy we have created for the future.   

People can you feel it? Fear is everywhere.  

At no other time in human history has the destruction of the planet we live on seemed so hopelessly irreversible. Even the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War held the hope that we could avoid it somehow, if only world leaders could come to an understanding, if only we could prevent the button from being pushed accidentally. We've been doing OK so far, and so we don't worry about that so much, even if we should.  

We now know that our planet is already dying a slow premature death, but it seems impossible to reverse. We are struggling to maintain the civilization that we have come to take for granted, a civilization dependent on the continuous plundering of our planet. How do we prevent world economic collapse and save the planet at the same time? How could we have allowed our economic system to be so nakedly vulnerable to greed, one of the most basic human traits? How could we have allowed greed to infect and infiltrate virtually everything we depend on for our survival, from our food to our health care to the air we breath and the water we drink?   

I think a lot of people are still in denial. Those people who have escaped being personally affected by the health care crisis, the economic crisis, the environmental crisis, or any of the many crises that are going on, many of those people would rather not look at what they do not want to see. And so they look inward at their own lives, because to look outward would ruin their view.  

In time, everyone will be affected one way or another. In time, we will be in a much worse mess than we are in now. As they say, "It's going to get worse before it gets better." And that is what needs to happen.  

The hardest thing for us to do, whether as individuals or as the human collective, is to hope. Hope feels false unless we first feel hopeless. I think we have been entering an era of hopelessness that transcends all previous eras of hopelessness. Until we collectively face that this is happening, and are collectively honest about why this is happening, positive change will not happen. Without positive change there can be no meaningful hope.  

There is forty years between 1970 and 2010. I wonder what the next forty years will bring. I wonder how long it will take before we joyously listen to a new song that says: 

"People can you feel it? Hope is everywhere!"

 

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Reader Comments (7)

Your comment about people being in denial is right on point. I see the greediness of people I call the "haves" versus the desperation of the "have nots" and it just makes you want to shake some sense into people. Of course on a global level, our "have nots" are still pretty high up on the food chain compared to other countries, but our perceptions of our needs are relative to the way we are brought up and color our level of expectations. I do think we are in an era of frustration for some, and yes, hopelessness for others, probably more so than other times in history. I remain cautiously optimistic though; somehow I feel we'll slog through this.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrekop

Interesting points. I am reading a book now by a rather eccentric professor who has identified what he calls the four horsemen of the apocalypse - ecological crisis, economic imbalance, biogenetics and exploding social divisions - and that our individual and collective responses correspond to the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, withdrawal and, ultimately, acceptance. Much of our behavior in the political and cultural arena these days can be located along this timeline of emotive reaction to this great unfolding. Good post. Keep writing!

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKen Shain

A very insightful and worthy article on discord. I agree this world is nearly ...well completed. Too many people? perhaps. but i think its more over what all these people have on their mind. Unfortunately it seems money controls almost all intrest in our world. not what is right. like say for instance using alternate fuels, stopping pollution, stop all the hate and negativity, cause its true..it wont get you through. when i was younger the words to the dylan song ballad of a thin man used to reverberate in me head like an echo of a defintion i could not comprhend. "you know somethings happening here but you just dont understand". I love dylans music and songs like a rolling stone, blowing in the wind, tamborine man, his music is starkly real of life at times and others helpful words of a ordinary life calling out like a man trapped within the confines of his own mortality existence. How many colors can you think of? how many ways are there to live ones life? well.. I write songs without thought of evaluation from others so if this is one i hope inspiration is the result.
I will understand

if i give myself to this world of crippled minds
to make this one a better place
i give it so you will realize in time
to see a truer smile there on your face
if i dont stop to help you that would be a crime
of all the people in this human race
i want to know in my heart i helped you shine
when you were broken and without grace

I will understand
if you have to go
i will understand
let the truth of your life flow
i will undrstand
you only need let it show
i will understand
that you will somehow know
i will always be an understanding man

Daytime is passing like the green fields
beyond the thoughts of yesterday
my life is passing through how i feel
can i help you understand your heart
between you and me i know it is real
so i give to you from my own this way
the hope for the thought of a better day
I will understand what you have to say

I will understand
if you have to go
i will understand
let the truth of your life flow
i will understand
you only need to let it show
i will understand
that somehow you will know
i will be an understanding man

hope of the darkness that surrounds us all like someone famuos once said.
heres hoping your life will be as meaningful as a truckload of understanding. all we really have in this old world is each other carol!
never be afraid of living. never be afraid of the truth. be true to yourself and ...live! well...if i said the wrong things i was only trying to be an understanding man! have a successful day Carol Jean Shriver!

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Merritt

Doesnt it seem to hold so true that a song like revival is a bit misplaced during this time of uncertanty, thise time we now live in and the struggle working people have today. Our planet is like an overdrawn bank account waiting for futher action to take place it seems.
dependance on fossil fuel has strained the budget, deforestation has strained the budget, Idiots in the white house has broken the budget and about ten million forty six hundred and ninety two six other things have thrown in their two centavos worth 2! Oh my Gosh am i heard all alone? it feels that way sometimes. my life seems like for every rose that comes my way i get stuck with the thorns on it as well! But i shouldnt be so cynnical about it. I should just be thankful for all my millions and my mansion and jaguar......oops! i was only dreaming.
I hope it all doesnt kill me before i die! I am thankful to just be alive right now. I love your story on discord cause its real life. a real view of whats going on with people and yourself. Stay honest and true nothing else will ever do! :)

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichaelangelo

Beautiful!!! You truly have an eye for colour. cglkja cglkja - supra TK Society.

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertssfjh tssfjh

I'm going home tonight to take a pick, i'm very excited about this (clearly you see how sad and crazy i am about shoes.) Will post the picture mncuzj mncuzj - Hermes Birkin.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlbvmxz lbvmxz

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April 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterhesten yelle

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