Two miles from my house live dozen of broken people, huddled under leaky tarps in the rain. They are broken because they cannot find living-wage work, medical help or affordable housing.
At our the southern border we share with Mexico, our President and his handlers are doing their damndest to turn away thousands of refugees pouring into the area every day. Whether its turning people back, arresting them at the border, separating parents from children, or threatening to turn the whole situation over to select US cities to deal with, it's all bad. People who are fleeing violence and potential murder in their homelands come here, ad are turned away by a president who says the USA is "full."
And our planet is warming so rapidly that species cannot be saved, and the ice caps are melting, and the oceans are rising.
It's all a huge mess.
It's all too much.
And I'm admitting right here and now that when it feels this way, making music and instruments and art feels, well, irrelevant. Pointless. Stupid.
I'm not looking for feedback here, or bucking up, or whatever. I'm okay.
But I am in a huge process of thinking about what I do, how I do it, and why.
And a lot of it is influenced by the state of the world today.
I am so deeply and profoundly affected by the state of the world, both globally and locally, that it is compelling me to question what I am doing in the world right now.
Because traveling as I do affects the world, every time I board an airplane or a bus.
Because while making things from repurposed stuff is cool, shipping it all over the palce is not sustainable, or a wise use of resources.
Because my music feels too nice, too gentle, for the times we live in. The times we live in feel more urgent, feel like they demand a more urgent response.
So I am thinking a lot while I'm home.
Pesach (Passover) begins Friday night.
For eight days we will consider the value -- and the cost -- of what we call freedom. For eight days I will consider how free I really am, and on whose backs my freedom rests.
I haven't written songs specifically for Pesach. None have come to me.
Lately I've thought a great deal about what it means to live in the world, on stolen land -- because unless we're Native Americans, we all live on stolen land in this country, and that weighs on me heavily.
Can I extend that to my still-forming understanding of the State of Israel?
I don't know enough yet to say.
But clearly it's land stolen from someone.
I suppose it depends on whom you ask as to which story you'll get.
The stories conflict, and in the end the outcomes depend on who holds the most power in the situation.
Just as it has here in America.
Which is why it is currently very hard for me to view Gaza any differently than the reservation in Browning, Montana, a place I've traveled through numerous times by train. Both are bleak and poor places, filled with desperate people who've been displaced from somewhere else they once called home.
Browning is what's left, Gaza is what's left, to the folks who lost the battle.
At least for now.
It could all change.
And it may change in our lifetime.
The ultimate victor may not be a race or a affinity group or a community of people, but the planet itself.
No way to know.
For now, I must wrestle with the meaning of what I'm doing, and ask myself some very hard questions about whether or not it genuinely matters, or if there's something more pressing I can and should do with my time and abilities that would make more of a difference. I don't know the answer to that yet.
But in the meantime, we can all do a lot better.
We can all remember what empathy felt like when more of us felt it in our bones.
We can remember what it felt like when we saw another human being suffer, and not turn away from them or from the feeling their pain evokes in us.
We can remember that they are us, and that when they hurt, we hurt too.
And we can all try to act from that place more often, to ease the pain and make things more fair and just.