Author: Compton, Cliff

Wreck on the highway

Some years back I was driving the road from Yakima Washington on my way to Portland Oregon and on the pass over the mountain there was R.V. that had wrecked and caught on fire, blocking the highway and stopping traffic for miles in both directions. After sitting a while I noticed that the car in front of me had a banjo showing through his back window, so naturally, I got out of my car and asked him if he wanted to pick. I got out my guitar and up there on the mountain we started a jam. People came out of their cars, sat on the hoods, and listened to the music. A good time was had by all, except of course, for the poor guy in the R.V. who was watching his vacation turn to cinders.

Iíve been thinking about that for the last week or so, because I usually visit my happy place when times are rough, and times have been, for myself, for many of my friends, and from where Iím sitting, for my country.

Iíve never seen a time in my life when we were so divided as a nation. A near vitriolic hatred from both sides of the political aisle toward the other side. The left thinks the right is a bunch of homophonic, bible thumping, racist, obstructionist, warmongering, rich, wing nuts who want to poison the air and water, kick old ladys out of wheelchairs and subjugate the poor. The right think the left are a bunch of God hating communist, bubble headed peaceniks who want the government to run everybodyís life, and the working people to give their money to those who donít want to work.

Ainít that about right?

The thing Iíve always loved about the music we play is the community it spawns. It cuts across all political and religious segments of society. It cuts across racial boundaries and economic classes. I think this is a precious thing that should be protected.

We all have a point of view. Conclusions weíve reached in the course of our lives. A worldview that makes sense to us. A faith in God or in science or in humanity that is pretty well entrenched and is dear to us. None of us likes to have it denigrated or disrespected. I think there is a danger in things like social media, message boards and the like, as we share our world view with our community that we drive wedges between us that lessen our respect for each other and hurt heart friendships that have develop over years of musical bliss. Iíve been guilty of this myself, and have always felt bad when Iíve been drawn into some ugly political discussion with a friend I respect, and wish I had just kept my thoughts to myself.

So back to the wreck on the highway. When I was playing with that banjo player up on top of the mountain pass, I didnít know him from Adam, he might have been a republican, a democrat or a bomb-throwing terrorist. He might have been a southern Baptist, a scientologist or an atheist. I didnít care. I liked him. He was playing music. He was helping to heal the stress of sitting in the hot sun on top of the mountain watching the fire trucks put out he flames out that burning roadblock. Thereís enough pain in this old world without the incivility engendered by insulting your friendsí core beliefs.

I know weíve still got free speech in this nation and I guess we can say anything we want. I donít knowÖ. Iíd personally prefer to know us by the kindness in our heart and the music that we play. Because that feels good. Keeps me coming back. Looking forward to seeing your smiling face.

Keep on pickiní brothers, and sisters.
Posted:  3/8/2013

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