Last night I saw Hair on Broadway. I am not going to review it, though it was amazing and I highly recommend it. Instead I want to talk about my reaction to a particular scene. As I am sure most people are aware, the show is set in New York City during the Vietnam War era and follows the adventures of a "tribe" of hippies.
In the scene in question, the tribe is protesting outside the army induction center. They are burning their draft cards and urging others to do the same. The usual chants accompany the action, "Hell no, we won't go", "What the hell are we fighting for, make love not war" and "Do not enter induction center" among others. It brought tears to my eyes. Not because of the talent of the actors, though they were talented, but because my mind wandered to the fact that once again we are in an era of war and civil unrest.
The parallels are there. We are stuck in a war that doesn't make sense. We are dealing with heated issues of race and sexual identity. The nations of the world are in a state of economic depression. The real question is, where is the rebellion? Why are we accepting these things as the way it needs to be? Can Gen X truly be this apathetic?
First off, we need to end this war. The chant from Hair, "What the hell are we fighting for?" couldn't be more appropriate. Can anyone tell me what we are fighting for? We have been at war for so long that we seem to have forgotten. It has been so long I couldn't remember when the war began, I had to look it up - March 20, 2003. That's more than 7 years. And what set of circumstances would indicate a victory? I have not heard any actual war aims outside of "keeping America safe" and that seems kinda vague. Since the original reasons to invade Iraq were to capture fictitious weapons of mass destruction, it seems unlikely that we can accomplish that goal. Yet, we continue to allow our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors to be shipped off to war. Too many don't come back. According to iCasualties.org, to date more than 4,711 Americans have died serving in Iraq. Those who do come back are haunted by nightmares, post traumatic stress disorder and countless physical disabilities.
Across our nation, the "land of the free" we have people living their lives as second class citizens. Gay Americans, by all estimates somewhere between 5% and 10% of the population live without the same civil rights as heterosexuals. In most places they are unable to marry. They live without protection from discrimination. In most places same sex partners do not have the right to make end of life decisions for their partners or to inherit property.
Where is the civil disobedience? The only issues that seem to have brought people to the streets are taxes and health care. Wake up everyone! We need to make it clear that we will not allow our people to be sent off to a senseless war. We need to make it clear that racism is not OK. We need to make it clear that homophobia is not OK. We need to stand up, hand in hand, no matter our gender, race, religion or sexual orientation and tell everyone to stop the hate and violence. We need to take our country back, and I don't mean that in a 1950's white Christian heterosexual male sort of way. I mean it in an inclusive, empowering, all people are created equal sort of way. Hair served to remind me that I need to speak up more. I need to use my voice, my vote and my blog to move forward on the road to peace and equality. Will you join me?
*He gets down off his soapbox*