November 18, 2020
I have something a bit different to share with you in this new Live at Home video I’m releasing today. It’s a song called Love and Fear, and it’s the kind of tune that allows me to wail a bit more in the blues-based style of playing I so love to delve into. So I stretched things out a bit longer on the solo section that starts about three minutes into the video and accounts for its length. But the essence of the song and why I chose to share it at this time is really in its lyrics.
I was struggling for the right words to introduce it to you when I came across television and online journalist Katie Couric’s interview this week with clinical psychologist and writer Mary Trump, PhD. Dr. T, in case you’re not aware, is the niece of the current US president (or can I call him, as one late comedian did post-election, our president-reject?) She is also the author of the recent book that chronicles their family’s history and how it shaped the man who is currently essentially barricading himself in the White House and denying the reality of his impending departure (while most of us are probably counting the days until the 20th of January.) I enjoyed the interview, as I did her book, but it was Ms. Couric’s comments in closing the conversation and the psychologist’s response that inspired me to bring it up here because they convey so well what motivated me to write the song.
“People who are angry are people who are fearful. People who are fearful need our empathy and support instead of - what I think is a natural reflex - to hate back. And I think whenever we can be compassionate to people we’re going to be able to be more unified. I think we have to remember that a lot of people really do want the same things, and those who don’t just need to be helped to see and understand. And maybe they’re just not the product of the same education that we’ve all been lucky enough to have so . . . we’ve got to start moving in that direction somehow." - Katie Couric
I wrote Love and Fear back in the early years of the new century, when we U.S. Americans were living through what at that time had been the most dangerous, power grabbing, and ruthlessly destructive administration in our lifetimes. We were a deeply divided country then too. Millions of us were resisting the wars the Bush-Cheney team had dragged us into, enabled by the public's fearful response to the 9/11 attacks, and millions more who - still dwelling in that state - continuing to support the needless slaughter of others and sacrifice of our own for a pretentious cause justified by what are now generally acknowledged as lies and deceit.
That era, in many ways, set the stage for the mess that DJT and his extreme rightwing gang of thugs and financial and political backers have made of our country. They have sown even greater division among We the People, their supporters inflamed once again by fear, but this time not just fear of an outside enemy but a perceived one within our borders - in some cases, those attempting to cross them, and in others, our own neighbors.
“Behind cruelty, as you said, is terror, and we need to figure out why these people are so afraid and help them not be.” - Mary Trump, Ph.D.
In response to all that, this song offers some reflection on a principle first introduced to me back in the mid-70’s by the late Ram Das, the former psychologist and psychedelic researcher turned spiritual mentor, who was one of my earliest teachers. This bit of wisdom he shared has helped to guide me throughout my life since - particularly in the most challenging of times, like these last four truly crazy making years. It’s also a concept that has remained fundamental in my life’s work and feels particularly important for me to share right now. You see, I really think that how we handle and respond to the events of this transitional period we’re living in at the moment - and through what lies immediately ahead - will be critical. And that in every moment of crisis or uncertainty, we face a choice - often an unconscious one - as to whether we respond and act out of love . . . or out of fear.
I hope you enjoy the song, and I welcome your response to it. Peace and love to you all!