I choose to write about things “of good report and praiseworthy,” as suggested by the 13th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But sometimes, my darker side speaks up. The following essay comes from that side where anger lives.
A Good Old Song
In 1955, a group of teenagers made a circle, held hands, and sang Let There be Peace on Earth because they thought it would make a difference in the world. Jill Jackson, who wrote the song, said the words didn’t come from her, but through her. Her husband, Sy Miller, wrote the music. **
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. *
In 1959, when I was ten and went to Lehi Elementary School at the corner of Horne and Lehi Road, I stood with my class of sixth graders in the music room while Mrs. Murdock, the music teacher, played the piano and we sang this song. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony . . .I felt responsible. Bring peace. Make peace. Be part of peace. The words and music stirred me. Yes, I could do that. I would do it. Let this be my solemn vow—to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally . . .
The song was performed across the nation. It was recorded by popular artists including Bing Crosby, Pearl Bailey, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. With God as our Father, brothers all are we . . .**
Singing that song made me feel good about myself. It taught me I could make a difference.
Now, sixty years later, what has happened to us? Instead of responsibility, there is entitlement. To those who stir discord I say, “You choose to be offended because you believe being offended makes you a star. You grab attention and act out, pull over statues, pout, destroy property, be woke. You believe you are changing the world by snuffing out bigotry and insensitivity. But by destroying edifices of history, you erase our mistakes and thereby you erase the important learnings that followed those mistakes. You erase resilience and courage.
“Your activist created chaos makes swaths of anger, resentment, and hatred. In your self-righteous assumptions of superiority, you foster the attitudes you seek to destroy. The cost for your destruction is borne by others. You see yourselves as victims. Hah! What then do you call those people with stunned expressions who live in the wake of your entitlement? Who are you folks anyway?”
Should you realize the self-centered, dead-end road you are on, and choose another path, I offer you the words of this magnificent song. Sing it. Feel it. Let it percolate through your bodies, into your minds and spirits. Find another way.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
*From the song “Let There Be Peace on earth” by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. Copyright 1955, 1983 by Jan-Lee Music. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
** Let There be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me, by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. Illustrated by David Diaz. Tricycle Press, NY. 2009.
Book Review: A Good Book Best Heard
Two weeks ago, Dwight and I made the seven-hour drive to Cedar City, Utah, then returned to Mesa the next day. We were accompanied on that fourteen-hour trip by Audible. One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General by William Barr, narrated by Mark Deakins, was a compelling travel companion.
Imagine the know that would come with the position of attorney general. Barr served twice, first for George H. Bush, then for Donald Trump. He writes about his service with these two men, and the challenges of their administrations.
But he also covers with great authority and clarity, issues of our day. Chapter headings include “Fighting the Drug Cartels,” “Securing Religious Liberty, “Taking on Big Tech,” “Protest and Mayhem.” From his vast experience in government and law, Barr tracks the historical perspectives of contemporary issues, who the instigators are, why we should be concerned and has suggestions about what to do. After listening to these chapters, I felt informed, more aware, and more able to discuss and defend my own positions relative to these issues.
Without reservation I highly recommend this book, particularly the audible format. While I have ordered the book itself to pull quotations and for review, I believe my first pass through was enhanced by listening. One Damn Thing After Another is compelling American Civics.