Recently, I saw Respect: A Musical Journey of Women where excerpts of 60 songs, from “I Will Follow Him” to “These Boots are Made for Walking”  were sung by a cast of four women accompanied by a live band. The show chronicles the progress of women through the 20th century, against the backdrop of songs of each era.

While it is easy to celebrate women’s milestones– “We’ve come a long way baby”, we cannot ignore that in many ways progress has been stymied.  Promoting women as sex objects continues today — witness Britney Spears, the modern day Betty Boop / Marilyn Monroe. Today’s laws are a rollback on women’s protection —  from the numerous anti-choice regulations designed to prevent women from getting birth control pills or abortions to budget cuts  for programs assisting domestic violence / rape survivors.

That musical journey & Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol inspired the essay below:

Looking back over the past 50 years, The Ghost of Christmas past jars awake our memories with:

1960s’  assassinations and expansion of The Vietnam War (My Lai Massacre); triumphs such as:  the ‘war on poverty’ led to signing of Medicare /Medicaid legislation. Civil Rights, the moon landing, the Beatles, and Star Trek are among the gains of that decade.

Theme Song for the sixties? Les Miserables: “Do You Hear The People Sing?”

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing a song of angry men?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again!

The 1970s were filled with:  Kent State Shootings, Watergate, Nixon resigning and the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  On the positive side, we had the: creation of EPA, end of The  Vietnam War, Roe v Wade decision, the launching of SkyLab, and the theatrical release of Star Wars.

Theme Song for the seventies? Bridge Over Troubled Water.

When you’re down and out,

When you’re on the street,

I’m on your side.

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind.

The 1980s (or the Reagan catastrophe) are best remembered for: “Greed is Good” – insider trading / junk bonds, Conspicuous Consumption, War Against the Poor – Welfare Queens, etc., AIDS, Chernobyl, Exxon-Valdez, Huge Poison Gas Leak in Bhopal, India, the Challenger explosion and the murder of John Lennon. Personally, I was happily unaware in my blue pill stupor.  Anything positive about the decade? The movie ET came out.

Theme Song for the eighties? Madonna’s Material Girl

You know that we are living in a material world

And I am a material girl

As the Ghost of Christmas present entered, the nineties went by in a blur of “sensationalism” — Monicagate, Travelgate, etc. etc…, while real issues – profit over human rights, ie. the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) , repealing Glass-Steagall, etc. – were ignored.  Today we’re dealing with Climate Change, Drone Warfare and debating what constitutes a “Living Wage.” Progress in constitutional rights, voting rights and workers’ rights have been derailed in recent years. A more fair and inclusive America seems to be a distant dream today. One of my favorite t-shirts states: “We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is “legal” we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal.” — W.E.B. Du Bois. The Nation. In my lifetime alone we’ve seen the statement above bear fruit over and over again.  From the 1960s ‘war on poverty’ to the Reagan years ‘war   against the poor’, we are now facing the largest income gap in mankind’s history.

Bush’s Reign of Error can be described with lyrics from the musical Chicago:

Give ’em the old razzle dazzle

How can they hear the truth above the roar?

They’ll let you get away with murder

Razzle dazzle ’em

And they’ll beg you for more!

Obama Years can be summarized with the following poem:

IF ONLY

If you only had a heart,

full of courage,

we may have a future

filled with hope

and rainbow dreams

Instead we are

confronted with:

NSA spying,

protecting the banksters,

persecuting the whistleblowers

fracking our future

where corporations

have more rights than people

Debtors prisons  are back

Ebenezer Scrooge would be elated…

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the land

Everybody was busy

Buying, buying, buying all they can…

The presents under the tree

Laid there three feet deep

The bows and the wrapping paper

All used to cover

Amazon gifts galore

Forty presents later,

“What else is there?”

“What do you mean no more?”

“But I want more…”

The crying, the whining…

Christmas tears are falling

Sadness, disappointment

Frustration

There must be more to it than this

The Scrooge in me

insists: “Bah humbug”

The timeless gift of teaching

No consequences

Kill a few people?

With enough money,

You too can buy the ‘affluenza defense

Of kids who are too rich to jail

Presents under the tree

Wrapping paper made out of trees

Gifts shipped from China

Plastic, plastic everywhere

Drowning our planet

Consider what might have been

If we only had the will

to elect leaders

with the courage to stop the madness of greed.

The Pathology of the Rich – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself — Dec 5, 2013.

The Ghost of Christmas Future steps in to point out that we cannot depend on leaders to solve our problems. A People’s Movement (ie. One Struggle) is  the only way we can be free — Free from wars, Free from corporate masters, if and here is the big if, we the people organize / demand change — social justice for all.

The Timeless Gift

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the land

Shoppers are scurrying, hurrying, and buying

Tempers are flaring,

The malls are overcrowded,

Shoppers in search of that One Perfect Gift

Eyes glazed over with “shoppers’ fatigue”

Shoppers checking their lists for:

Bows & Wrapping paper,

Cards & Presents, Presents, Presents

Shoppers in search of that One Perfect Gift

On the other side of the counter

The cashier looks over

The line of items to ring up

Wow, her mom would surely like that alluring perfume

Wage slave chasing the Almighty Dollar in a quest for survival

Eighty dollars for “perfect gift”

She sighs, she only has ten dollars to spare

And five was marked for One Struggle’s Open Mic Night

Well what’s a girl to do, maybe she could sell her hair…

Wage slave chasing the Almighty Dollar in a quest for survival

Ring the bells that still can ring

Starvation Army urging people to donate their coins

A flash of inspiration

Why not use the ten dollars

And treat her mom to a night at One Struggle’s Open Mic

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