21st Century Tears - The Young Heart of Wisdom
It is a curious thing to find as one ages how the heart, rather than growing callous from many blows, actually can become more tender, more receptive to poignant beauty, and how tears can flow with embarrassing speed, prompted by even the slightest provocation, such as the umpteenth viewing of one's favorite romantic comedy - or by the sight of a three-year old girl gurgling absurdly with delight as she plays with her puppy.
My father displayed this same curious emotional arc, as his 90-year-old eyes would grow moist, for example, at the mere mention of the name of Joan of Arc.
Despite two long marriages I somehow managed to avoid the one experience that ages and matures us more than any other - parenthood. So perhaps it is easier for me to retain my childlike emotional susceptibility than it might be had I undertaken that noble and exhausting journey. Then too, that practice of empathy which is an indispensable necessity for an actor, singer, or storyteller (and I have long been all three) requires the ability to glance into the eyes of a homeless man crouched on the sidewalk and to feel (even as one passes without a pause) what it may be like to look out of his eyes, to pick up his frequency, his emotional state in that moment, and to imagine how you may appear to him...and to feel that strange ache in the heart which is the price of presence.
But beyond my own particular prism of perception, I find this moment in history is so rife with causes of joy and grief that I wonder if perhaps this flow of emotion is not (or at least should not be) unique to me, but is simply a result of a choice to be as fully present as possible to the appalling losses and thrilling potentials which confront us everywhere we look here in the third decade of the 21st century.
My birth positioned me to experience the last age of American innocence and so to witness a gradual descent into levels of cynicism and vulgarity which were unimaginable on, say, November 22nd, 1963. Or on April 4th, 1968 when Dr. King was slain. Or scant weeks later in June of that same year when Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the third of the great American martyrs of the 1960s, was killed in the kitchen of the now-vanished Ambassador Hotel, a few miles from the cafe where I write this column.
I am old enough to have experienced the American shock at what now seem the comparatively mild crimes of Richard Nixon as the Watergate scandal unfolded, culminating in the only presidential resignation in our history. I rejoiced in the sunny optimism of the unexpected ascent of Jimmy Carter to the White House, volunteering early in his campaign before he had won a single primary. By 1980 I was living in Manhattan as the Iran Hostage Crisis unfolded and as Carter fell to the cooperating machinations of the senior George Bush and the Ayotollah Khomeini as the insipid charm of Ronald Reagan began its disastrous reign. Then came what felt like the final blow – the unimaginably senseless killing of John Lennon, mere minutes after I had gone far out of my way to walk past The Dakota where he lived, simply because his poignant ballad “Oh My Love” was running through my mind and wouldn’t stop.
Then impeachments and stained dresses and bare-faced public lies, “hanging chads” in chaotic Florida in the election of 2000 amidst shameless Supreme Court subversion of democratic process, followed by the mind-boggling corporate profits reaped from the neatly arranged War on Terror after the highly suspicious events of September 11th.
The pace of corporate-sponsored American fascism in the name of democracy did not pause during the wonderfully seductive and eloquent presidency of Barack Obama – the perfect mask behind which the erosion of our heritage of freedom could continue unabated.
I will pass in silence over the absurd chaos of the years 2016 to 2020, other than to record my conviction that if American elections were truly accurate and uncorrupted, we would now be in the second year of the second term of President Bernie Sanders – a timeline which now seems almost impossible to picture.
My own arc of disillusionment over these decades brought me to see unignorable evidence of the reality of the elite puppeteers who arrange the divisive toxic circus of left/right, Blue/Red, black/white, gay/straight, pro-life/pro-choice, man/woman, LGBTQ endless procession of reasons to distract us, to tribalize, to separate, to isolate, and to gradually erode our innate divinely given sovereignty of the soul – to erode it so gradually that only when it is too late will we realize that we have been had, oh so badly and absurdly had, screwed, violated, dumbed down and enslaved.
As for the pandemic and the agenda it serves, I will simply refer you to the exhaustively documented evidence meticulously compiled over many years at Children’s Health Defense, and to the sober information at https://www.wanttoknow.info/.
Now the good news. You are reading the words of one of the most idealistic and romantic optimists and unabashed crusading believers in the ultimate triumph of Light over Dark you will ever meet. And as I look around I see marvelous evidence of the unfolding of a divine plan, of the presence of angels of light, of the impact of divine incarnation, of the sweet fierce mercy of the Feminine Face of God, and of the assured ascension of human consciousness amidst a radical restoration of our mother Earth. It will, however, not merely be a bumpy ride, but a massive upheaval…one which can mercifully be moderated if we can only discover and practice the delightful sacred science of elevating one’s frequency in harmony with quantum reality.
In the end it's about the power of story. "There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story," observes Tyrion Lannister. "No army can stop it. No enemy can defeat it." And I am astonished to see the one particularly powerful, potentially redemptive American story which is now in play.
There is a rather phenomenal cultural event unfolding this summer – the return of Elvis Presley. The brilliant Baz Luhrmann (a radical idealist and romantic if ever there was one) in his brilliant film “Elvis” has used the prism of that meteoric life to frame the crucible American decades of the 1940s through the 70s, and to remind us of the sweet unifying power of music as it poured through this remarkably pure soul. Yet the arc of the film also tells a tale of the corrupting and tainting power of cunning and greed to sabotage and exploit a gift it cannot comprehend, as embodied in the despicable so-called Colonel Tom Parker. By the end of Elvis’ short life, it seems indeed (as he tells his ex-wife Priscilla shortly before his death) that he has done nothing which will last, that he will not be remembered, that he is finally, in the end, “all out of dreams.”
But he is not merely remembered today. In this beautiful film he is redeemed and celebrated, vindicated and brought back to our hearts, a beloved American legend, so human and so magnetic, so humble and so great.
If America actually is able to fall in love again with the boy from Tupelo, Mississippi (and the $250 million worldwide gross would seem to say so), then perhaps we can still fall in love with the best in ourselves, in our heritage, with the gifts and griefs of the men and women who came before us – the immigrants, the slaves, the freedom-hungry of the world, and the brutally hunted tribes they displaced – all of whom (strangely) were embodied in the very DNA of Elvis Presley, sprung as he was from Jewish, Cherokee, African and Scottish forbears and raised in the poor Black sections of Deep South Mississippi. If we “can’t help falling in love” with this most irresistibly lovable American, then I believe may yet come together as a great and various family, united by our inherited love of rebellious vitality and unabashed love for God and His/Her human children.
See the film. See it in all its glory on a big screen. And realize, if you can, what astonishing impact one artist who dared to believe in his gifts had upon our world. “If I Can Dream,” he sang. He dreams again in this story and through it so can we all.
Michael Henry Dunn