Peter, Paul, and Mary – Come And Go With Me
1. Discussion. Expanding the circle of brotherhood is certainly a noble ideal. Though it owes something to both Judaism and ideas of unity under empire, it gets its strongest push from Christianity. It is almost a Christian idea – perhaps we should see it as an heretical Christianity. As a practical matter, we are not well-designed for expanding such circles. When we embrace a new set of people, we drop some off the back without noticing. We are not designed for unlimited fellow-feeling.
Those progressives who caution us most vehemently about nationalism and jingoism, insisting that America has much to learn from other cultures (especially Western European elites), have dropped a lot of their fellow Americans into the bad pile. They speak of other subcultures with contempt and accusation, saying things about them that they would never say about oh, Belgians or Hindus. This is not a broadening of brotherhood, but a mere transfer. I don’t know why this is. I do not know that it is inevitable. The American experiment itself seems to be evidence that we can expand our boundaries of affection beyond the merely tribal. Perhaps under Christ we can all learn to see all humankind as our brothers and sisters.
But right now the people doing the most insisting that we need to dare to believe in this theory are the same ones who are most vicious to the rest of us. They have divided along the lines of “those who will go with us” versus “those who hinder us,” yet they do not see it. They don’t notice who was pushed off the back of the iceberg when they welcomed new penguins in the front.
In its extreme, we get the concluding lines of Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun, in which the protagonist insist that if “you” great persons ever send us little guys to war against other little guys again, we will turn our guns on you.
He was the future he was a perfect picture of the future and they were afraid to let anyone see what the future was like. Already they were looking ahead they were figuring the future and somewhere in the future they saw war. To fight that war they would need men and if men saw the future they wouldn't fight. So they were masking the future they were keeping the future a soft quiet deadly secret. They knew that if all the little people all the little guys saw the future they would begin to ask questions. They would ask questions and they would find answers and they would say to the guys who wanted them to fight they would say you lying thieving sons-of-bitches we won't fight we won't be dead we will live we are the world we are the future and we will not let you butcher us no matter what you say no matter what speeches you make no matter what slogans you write. Remember it well we we we are the world we are what makes it go round we make bread and cloth and guns we are the hub of the wheel and the spokes and the wheel itself without us you would be hungry naked worms and we will not die. We are immortal we are the sources of life we are the lowly despicable ugly people we are the great wonderful beautiful people of the world and we are sick of it we are utterly weary we are done with it forever and ever because we are the living and we will not be destroyed.
If you make a war if there are guns to be aimed if there are bullets to be fired if there are men to be killed they will not be us. They will not be us the guys who grow wheat and turn it into food the guys who make clothes and paper and houses and tiles the guys who build dams and power plants and string the long moaning high tension wires the guys who crack crude oil down into a dozen different parts who make light globes and sewing machines and shovels and automobiles and airplanes and tanks and guns oh no it will not be us who die. It will be you.
It will be you-you who urge us on to battle you who incite us against ourselves you who would have one cobbler kill another cobbler you who would have one man who works kill another man who works you who would have one human being who wants only to live kill another human being who wants only to live. Remember this. Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots you fierce ones you spawners of hate you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives.
We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.
Put the guns into our hands and we will use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities. Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.
Or you could attend closely to the lyrics of just about anything by
Jefferson Airplane, or the smug Us/Them mentality of CSNY.
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Teach Your Children