Love and Mercy: Hopes for 2017

When I grew up in the 60s, one of my favorite singing groups was the Beach Boys. Their music was upbeat, happy, and beautiful to hear.  But like so many of my generation, the real-life happenings of my favorite singers were not important. In later years, I remember hearing that Brian Wilson, the lead in the Beach Boys and the genius behind many of their songs, had suffered a breakdown, stayed in bed for years, and gained a lot of weight. The story held little interest for me until I saw the movie Love and Mercy with John Cusack as Brian Wilson.

I still love the music of the Beach Boys and thought I knew nearly all of their songs, but I had never heard the song “Love and Mercy” until I saw the movie. It’s pure, vintage Beach Boys, with Brian singing and playing the piano and a few ohs and ahs in the chorus. But it’s the message of the song that draws me in, especially as we face the looming uncertainty in our country under our incoming president. Many of us are very concerned about what will happen to our environment, our justice system, our schools, our healthcare, and the possibility of an  arms race under the new administration. There are calls to resist, as I believe many of us will and should. But what form will that resistance take? How do we counteract the ominous rumbles of oligarchy and corruption of democracy? While everyone will have their own answer to those questions, I’d like to share what I plan to do and how Brian Wilson’s song fits into a paradigm of change.

Many people will choose to resist, and I believe we should. But what form that will take will vary for each of us. I draw my inspiration from Einstein who said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  I agree with him, and I would modify his idea slightly to say, We cannot solve our problems with the same energy we used when we created them. And what kinds of energy created our problems?  Anger and  fear seem to be the dominant forces underlying the racism, nationalism, militarism, and greed that are gripping our nation. So we must turn away from those energies in order to create a better country and in turn, a better world for everyone. And changing the energy begins with every individual.

Every time you choose to be kind rather to to retaliate, your are shining the energy in a positive direction. Every time you choose a smile over a cutting remark, you add to the peace in the world. Every time you propose a solution instead of saying “That will never happen,” change advances.  One day at a time, one person at a time, by choosing a different and positive energy, we bring the promise of a better world closer. Love and mercy can help us.

Love and Mercy by Brian Wilson

I was sittin’ in a crummy movie with my hands on my chin
Oh the violence that occurs seems like we never win

Love and mercy that’s what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was lyin’ in my room and the news came on T.V.
A lotta people out there hurtin’ and it really scares me

Love and mercy that’s what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was standin’ in a bar and watchin’ all the people there
Oh the loneliness in this world well it’s just not fair

Hey love and mercy that’s what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight
Love and mercy that’s what you need tonight
Love and mercy tonight
Love and mercy

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