Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Police and Bitter Old Liberals

Since their re-union tour is connected with the Virgin festival which is coming to Baltimore, local stations have been playing a lot of Police. Tunes I haven't heard in years. That was some good stuff. It's made me think...

Sting has done fine work since the band broke up. Good albums, smart lyrics. But none of it, none at all, is anywhere near as fun. The joy, the playfulness of the Police is in none of his solo work.

This touches on one of my deepest fears. Many good people I know, smart folks with big, big hearts, who have been fighting the fight for decades, have ended up emotionally broken, become bitter old liberals in their later years. I know that the suffering in the world will never end despite all efforts, there will always be injustices to stand up against and better access to more of the world will likely bring more death and despair to our attention. How one can see what is happening in Darfur or the Middle East right now and not be deeply saddened is something I simply do not understand.

Yet, one can, and I would argue must, do what one can while still attempting to live a joyful life. The world can be a magical place full of delight. Appreciating it with a light spirit is a gift beyond measure. Yet, I see so many who worked so hard end up weighed down by it all.

It would be one thing if this were fated for all who care. If it were inevitable, I would understand that the joy is fleeting and leave it at that. But I have seen some -- my friends Pat and Lou, for example -- who are still fighting and who still float slightly above the ground the rest of us walk on. It is possible.

BUT. What is it that is the key to keeping from being broken? What is it that will allow one to stay playful without refusing to see all -- both the wondrous and the horrible? Surely, it's not as simple as "When the world is running down, make the best of what's still around."