Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God. Love. Hate.

Pete Seeger's banjo

My apologies to the good people of Topeka, Kansas. You have been so good to me over the years, and today I'm choosing to give space to your (arguably) most nefarious and disturbed citizen.

The family and I recently visited Topeka for three truly moving performances. (See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C0x5JZg23M&feature=related) More than 1,300 people over the course of the day! During one of our breaks we drove down a street in the state's capitol and saw a banner that read, "God hates America."

The banner was lashed to a tall fence that surrounded some property. A "compound" you might call it, and a sure indication that behind it lurks anarchists. Why is it that those who live on the violent edges of society live in compounds? No doubt, to protect themselves from backlash to their hate-filled existence.

The property and the sign belong to Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps is the self-proclaimed pastor and chief hater of America, Canada (all countries, really), US military personnel, homosexuals, Jews, non-whites, and, of course, Heath Ledger.

Now, I'm not sure what "god" his sign is referring to, but it isn't the God I know. God, by the very definition of "God," is incapable of hate. Love and hate simply can't co-exist -- one precludes the other. I'm pretty sure that God loves all the things that Phelps hates, and I'd bet God even loves Phelps.

So, here's what we do. We take a move from Pete Seeger's playbook and surround Phelps and other hate-mongers with love. Really. I know you'd rather inflict more painfully-satisfying things on him, but this is our best antidote to his kind of venom. A famous quote inscribed on the head of Seeger's banjo reads, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." I love that.

Our four-year-old daughter Lyda reminded me of something so simple the other day. We were making wishes on something and she asked me what I wished. I said, "World peace." And she said, "We've already got peace, because we've got God."

She's right, as always. We've already got peace right here; we just have to choose it, use it, mobilize it, and surround the planet with it.

Now, get out there and spread some love!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Noah's Scar

Noah (far left) with his family, my girls, and me.

Before we head into the thick of our super-charged July (49 shows in 31 days), I really want to tell you about our friend Noah who we saw on our annual tour through New Mexico this year.

Noah is five, lives in Albuquerque, and has seen my show every year for the past four years. He was a bit concerned he might miss this year's show. His parents told me that when Noah found out when I was scheduled to play, he got very upset because it was a mere two weeks after his open-heart surgery. Yes, heart surgery! He was more concerned that his docs wouldn't let him come to the show than he was about his healing.

Well, he showed up in spirited form!

"Hey, Mr. Stinky Feet, look at this," he said lifting up his shirt. There was his souvenir "zipper" from his surgery, running from his belly to the space between his collar bones. And sitting atop that scarred torso was a proud beaming face. You should have seen that grin. And the scar! Impressive.

"Is it still sore?" I asked.

"Nah...well...just a little," he admitted. But you'd never know it because he was cruising and bopping along with the rest of the crowd.

Aren't kids flat out amazing? Just think if that had been you or me. We'd be moping around, complaining about how the pain meds weren't doing the job, and milking as much sympathy as possible.

Kids don't have time for that. They're on to more important things, like singing and dancing, and...living.

Thanks for the reminder, Noah. You've got your priorities straight. Peace...