I lie in bed reading poems, trying to pick just the right one for a class at our Creative English camp. From the phone beside me miserable news streams from the United States.
I come across Walt Whitman’s ” I hear America Singing”a poem full of full-throated purpose, confidence and hope. That was 150 years ago. Today the songs of Americans have a terrible backing track –the wail of frightened children; parents, there to join a different chorus, crying with their arms empty, their hands outstretched.
True, many of the workers that Whitman celebrated wouldn’t have jobs in today’s America. With those jobs went purpose, confidence and hope. But unemployment is less than 4% in the US at the moment–new jobs have replaced the old. Nonetheless, we remain unfriendly, not open. Those who consider our national choir complete have turned our many harmonies into a one-tone, hate-filled chant.
We need to find our true voices.
America Singing: Listen to a group of new Peace Corps Armenia Volunteers singing an Armenian folk song at their swearing-in ceremony this spring. Stay to the end to see some really awesome tap-dancing.