Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Childhood: Kid’s Prayer

Dan Bern: Kid’s Prayer
[purchase City Folk Live X]
[Download the song from Bern’s Bandcamp page]

I am breaking my “no repeat” guideline this week, to post my second Dan Bern song, “Kid’s Prayer,” because it seems to be the most fitting song for this theme this week. I believe that the only official release of this song on CD was on WFUV’s City Folk II compilation from 1999, and re-released on the City Folk X disc in 2007. Bern recently posted it on Bandcamp for download with a “name your price” tag.

This song is Dan Bern at his most powerful. It was written after a school shooting in Arkansas in 1998. (Note-most of the information on the Internet says that it was written in response to a shooting in Oregon, which is what I originally wrote.  But Corny O'Connell, a DJ at WFUV, pointed out that Bern performed the song on the station in March, 1998--6 days after the Arkansas shooting, and a couple of months before the one in Oregon. Take a look here. So, I stand corrected, and reminded that what you read on the Internet is not always accurate) And since then, our country has taken the incredible position that gun laws should be made less stringent, and that an assault weapon ban should be permitted to expire. Thanks to the NRA and spineless politicians from both sides of the aisle.

The Newtown massacre has resulted in another bout of déjà vu. What Bern wrote in 1998 is exactly what I saw on TV over the last few days:

And all the world descends, and offers up their condolence
And offers up their theories what went wrong and who and why and when and how
It's all the killing day and night on television
It's all the movies where violence is as natural as breathing
It's guns and bullets as easily obtainable as candy
It's video games where you kill and begin to think it's real
It's people not having God in their lives anymore
Or it's all of it, or none of it, or some of it, in various combinations

Bern then offers up a secular prayer of his own, which is too long to quote, but the lyrics can be found here. His message is, essentially, treat your kids well and be open and honest with them. Encourage them, but set limits. I understand that much of the reason for the type of horrific incident that happened in Newtown is mental illness, and that no amount of good parenting can prevent that. But it can’t hurt.

And I hope that this incident finally galvanizes the President, Congress and state legislatures to restrict gun ownership. All the statistics that I have read support the argument that fewer guns, less widely available = fewer random shootings. Frankly, if strict gun control prevents just one mass murder (and it would likely prevent many more), I think that would be worth the restriction on the right to bear arms, as it has been (mis)interpreted (in my opinion). Constitutional rights are not absolute. The First Amendment, for example, does not allow unfettered speech.

So, for all of the politicians that read this blog, please get off your asses and do something. And for the non-politicians—tell your representatives to get off their asses and do something. I have, but in a somewhat more polite way.

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