Photo Credit: Photo: Jake Cunningham - Personal Collecction - All Rights Reserved

This essay was originally posted last autumn, shortly before the midterm election. Intended to motivate canvassers for a political organization hitting the Philadelphia suburbs, it's already part of our history.  I'm reposting with minor edits because our successful midterm election hasn't induced any improvement in the opposition's behavior.  My talking points, and the necessity of continuing work for the forces of good, still apply.

Alleluia, a beautiful, self contradictory work, was originally conceived, in 1940, as a joyful fanfare, to celebrate the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.  But Randall Thompson, it's composer, reacting to the war in Europe, ignored the Music Center Opening and instead wrote a lamentation for the recent fall of France to the Nazis. In his words, "The music in my particular Alleluia cannot be made to sound joyous. It is a slow, sad piece, it is comparable to the Book of Job".
The suffering of Job aside, take a moment to listen: This is what deep sorrow, growing into determination sounds like.  From Massachusetts to our only ally left standing, the indomitable British.  It's sacred nature is derived from the suffering and death that inspired it.

The gentle defiance of it's origin is more or less lost to us today.  Greatly appreciated for it's beauty, it's two words, Alleluia and Amen, bestow a legitimate solemnity that nevertheless obscures the original meaning.  I first came across Alleluia in College. The Kirkland/Hamilton choir sang a wonderful rendition of the work, it's on the 1976 Album of the Choir's music.  I wore the album out.  I'm including a version conducted by Anastasiya Sychova, because she's a woman in what has traditionally been a man's role, and because the choir looks young, possibly a college choir.  Great memories of a wonderful time, and the belated realization that I was witnessing something that would bring joy and influence for the rest of my life.

So no, Alleluia didn't inspire a sing along on the bus to Philly but only because, as good Democrats, we were still wearing masks!  

Alleluia represents a small snippet of American History, something solemn to be intensely proud of, that when viewed and understood with other small histories, reveals a larger truth that demands illumination, with focus and intensity.  Alone, it's a gentle wake up call. As in 1940, today storm clouds hover and obscure clarity, history repeats itself while our nation, exhausted and unwilling to act on what happening right in front of us, looks for any source of diversion.  Will the writer's strike force common sense and unity to the opposing sides?  It's a nice thought isn't it?  

Make no mistake about it.  Our history is under attack, common decency is scorned, common sense is giving way to conspiracy theories and quack political candidates.  We've already blown our responsibility to perpetuate Civil and Gender rights, our infrastructure falls apart while we squabble over a meaningless debt ceiling. The minority controls the agenda.  But we can still fulfill the generational responsibility inherent in our birthright - it's flip side:  To form a more perfect union.  The Biden Administration is, doggedly and relentlessly, doing just that. We've passed several landmark bills that address the responsibility we have to each other, to our ancestors, and to our children. I'm going to familiarize myself, as I did in October, with the details of these laws:

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The Inflation Reduction Act (Manchin's Favorite)
The Affordable Insulin Act  (Manchin's Least Favorite)

And I expect to be challenged about immigration policies and crime:  This from the Guardian will help:

"In ads, interviews and debates, Democratic candidates are countering what they say are Republican “lies” and distortions about their views on policing and criminal justice by emphasizing their support for law enforcement and highlighting endorsements from officers. They are also trying to flip the issue: accusing Republicans of endangering law enforcement and public safety by weakening gun laws and refusing to condemn the insurrectionists who attacked police officers and defiled the US Capitol on January 6."  

If you saw Trump on CNN May10, you would realize that we are not uniting, and as expressed in the Guardian, we need to flip the issue.  Really, New Hampshire Republicans? Laughing at rape? In fact the issues are dissolving, at this time we're left to confront a naked moral choice between two naked aging men, one of whom is an indicted, twice impeached, coup-plotting, provably lying, sexual predator. Living within the history of this epoch remains dark and stagnant.  Our president, despite some victories, has been unable to crowbar any increase in support.  It's too close already.  

Strong forces of progress aren't under criticism, they're under open attack by a domestic enemy that doesn't respect the standards of democracy.  Current Historians are coalescing around the theory that we're living through the death throes of the Reagan Revolution.  Government was the problem, not the solution. Was it a successful theory? Hardly.  Like the the desiccated husks in a late autumn corn field, Reagans principles are disintegrating. By insisting that the solution to everything is a tax cut, Republicans have salted their own fields. They're done. But we need to work to make sure they yield to spring's growth and renewal.  We have a clear advantage here, that we need to press, hard.   Nascent ideas, growing and taking shape, based on the legislative success before the midterms. Speaking for myself, I'd like to say thanks to Joe Biden, but let's clear the way for someone younger. And prove to the world that we can "pass the torch to a new generation" that, by virtue of our unity,  will be as successful and oriented toward national greatness, as any in our history.  

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