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BASS: Message of tolerance trumped by Miley and musical misogyny
There’s some irony in the fact that, just a few Facebook postings down from an incredible BBC video celebrating understanding, was a link from the Vancouver Province about bullying.
The newspaper article talks about a simple truth — 50 per cent of students surveyed reported they had been victims of bullying.
Having just listened to the likes of Maya Angelou, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzal and Joan Baez reciting parts of the I Have A Dream speech, it seemed wrong to then read that society continues to find people to oppress.
But, then, this is the same world in which live people who wrote vitriolic comments about a Cheerios commercial that featured an interracial couple and their child.
I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about that if he was alive today.
Fifty years ago yesterday (Aug. 28), King climbed the stairs of the American monument to the man who freed the slaves, faced hundreds of thousands of people and gave the speech of a lifetime — for those of us who remember it today, a speech of a generation.
A speech for a generation.
And maybe that’s what’s missing today — a powerful figure with an equally powerful voice and an overwhelming message of tolerance, acceptance, equality and love.
There are strong figures with vital messages who still speak out, but few stand out the way King did and does.
However, it was a different time then, one my kids and perhaps your kids will never experience.
We have all worked so hard to ensure our kids don’t ever live with the kind of society some of us grew up in, and we have succeeded in many ways.
I have never told my daughter what my father told me — make sure you learn bookkeeping and typing so you have a career to fall back on if you need to work.
My children never experienced teasing from others because they had befriended someone who looked different than they did.
I wonder if, in doing so, however, many of us have protected them too much, so that their view of the world is so skewed they don’t see how wrong it is to treat others with contempt.
Yesterday, when I was writing this column, I did a quick Google News search for two recent items, Miley Cyrus and King’s speech.
It was out of curiosity, more than anything, and it was somewhat satsifying to see the numbers.
The publicity stunt Cyrus pulled when she gyrated to the truly reprehensible Robin Thicke song on an awards show had fewer news links than the 50th-anniversary celebration of King’s words.
I wonder what King would have to say about it.
Would he shake his head at the misogynistic lyrics to Blurred Lines?
Would he celebrate Cyrus’s confidence in dressing the way she did, shaking her body the way she did, or would he wonder what the world he envisioned has come to?
I spent my teen years at rallies and protests and strikes. The walls of my bedroom featured posters of Robert and John Kennedy.
I had Desiderata, the poem, on my wall and found inspiration in its words:
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
“You have a right to be here.
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
“Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
“And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”
Simple words. Simply words.
Words have the most amazing power.
They can hurt.
They can divide.
They can heal.
Life-altering words can last forever — whether spoken in love or in hate.
I wonder what King would have to say today.