The tragedy of history

February 7, 2005 at 11:57 pm 4 comments

Today I attended a presentation of live music and dance, promoting the coming celebration of the 400th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, which will take place in 2007. The concept, roughly, was to bring together representatives of the three cultures and races that lived on those shores so long ago. I watched as Indians danced their mysterious rhythmic steps and called their high, wailing cries, and as gospel singers intoned old slave spirituals, heartrending sounds of loss and separation, oppression and pain.

And I looked on as teenaged boys tricked out in Revolutionary garb, the fifers and drummers of Colonial Williamsburg, performed a perfectly executed medley of march and battle tunes with their rat-tatting percussion and sweet piercing trills. I marveled at their faces under tricornered hats, young earnest faces which, one and all, could have been lifted from an 18th century painting.

Faces that should have been laughing with girls and grinning with boyish enjoyment of life, but that were, this day, prematurely solemn and weighty with trouble…not only because of the challenging performance they provided the audience, but because, I think, they were trained to imagine themselves doing the job done by their counterparts two centuries ago: portending with their instruments the onslaught of deafening explosions, acrid smoke, screams and killing, the slaughter of men by men.

And the faces were not merely concentrating on a difficult task – they gave the impression of being inured and hardened to some vast tragedy surrounding them, the kind of blank, bleak defensive barrier that battlefield denizens quickly develop in order to bear the terror occurring around them.

It was an eerie and unsettling feeling. For, along with the sorrows I heard in the music of the Indians and the Africans, this sadness of impending doom was palpable in the air. And what it said to me was that we are soon to face this same tragedy again, that we are already facing it now in faraway lands, and that those of us who love and will defend liberty may be the ones boys like these next serenade onto fields of blood here at home…or, worse, that the roles could be reversed.

Why, why have humans not yet learned to live and let live? Why must and will governments use the vitally alive young people living within their borders to kill and maim the young people of other places on earth? Why must slavery and oppression and torture and misery be inflicted by so many with such perennial vengeance?

I came so close to weeping then and there. With a vast sorrow, with bitter anger, with the frenetic wish to throw myself in the path of any power-drunk slimeball of the current elite who quite blithely grasps at the loveliness that is another’s life, tears it to filthy shreds with a casual, cold chuckle, then smirks, “Next!”

I know this isn’t a helpful message to you Outlaws, and I apologize. It was a very emotional morning, and I’m still searching for the kernel of the experience that might give rise to some useful action plan. All I know at the moment is that such a plan is a desperate need right now…for we are about to relive the bloody and tragic history I saw portrayed this morning.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

To Your Health! Fear itself

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robert Ronald Smith  |  February 10, 2005 at 11:43 am

    Lightning… Claire Wolfe was right about your entry on the reenactment… beautifully, tenderly, emotionally written. I don’t think you should worry about it not ending in an action plan. First, realization, then action, and that was a marvelous piece of realization. You just picked up a new reader.

    Bob Smith

  • 2. Rabenstrange  |  February 11, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    When I see performances like you describe it reminds me that people fought and died to free themselves from tyranny and to provide a future of liberty for their descendants. It saddens me to realize how greatly we have betrayed the people who created this great nation by allowing the current environment of partisan politics and government bureaucracy to continue.

  • 3. H. Rearden  |  February 13, 2005 at 7:48 pm

    Hello Lightning. That was a good blog. I visit Williamsburg, VA once or twice a year. My last visit was in November of last year. I stayed there a couple of days in a house on the Duke of Gloucester St.

    H. Rearden

  • 4. Taran Jordan (Lightning)  |  February 14, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    Bob…thank you so much for the understanding. Do you post on The Claire Files too? Can’t wait to check out your site…sounds like good stuff.

    Rabenstrange…I have felt the exact same thing, too many times. You look quite young yourself – kudos on the independent thought that brought you to such realizations. Don’t let anyone, ever, corrupt the clarity of your vision.

    H. Rearden…I love your nym! Hank is the man! 😉 Hope you enjoyed Williamsburg – a very good place to go to remind oneself of what patriotism means – and it isn’t about loyalty to a government. I’m about to go check out your blog too – great name!

    Thanks to all three of you for the wonderful comments. I am honored.–>


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