So, on that day and in that place, the President sang Amazing Grace
It’s safe to say the world is watching the US election this week. On November 3, the people will have the final word on the direction of their country.
So much has been said in this election -argued, opined, persuaded, shouted, fabricated, and distorted- the best and the worst of everyone and everything made manifest. What is left to say?
And yet, my interest was piqued by Thomas Friedman’s article in the New York Times** titled, When My President Sang Amazing Grace, in which he makes reference to a piece of music and muses whether people have forgotten what it’s like to have a leader, in this case the US President, who is truthful.
Truth- the first casualty of war and arguably in many elections- is both elusive and glaringly obvious. Leaders in many countries do tell the truth, but their words can be overshadowed by those who intentionally do not.
When words cannot adequately convey the truth, we use other means, such as music. The song referenced in the Times article was not about the US election. It told the story about the sorrow and anguish following the 2015 shooting of nine people in a Charleston, SC church. The emotions and expressions of grief that followed were acknowledged and honoured by a leader known for truthfulness and who in that moment gave voice to truth.
In a time when I am at a loss to explain what is happening in today’s world, I was moved when I heard “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” as I was when Obama sang Amazing Grace. When truth seems elusive, I need to be reminded that there are many people including those who lead, for whom the truth matters.
Song by Meklit and the Kronos Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBQOQVsdzbE
Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRvZjEv00s
We, as citizens everywhere, need to hold our leaders to account to be truthful. As we watch and wait this week, for the well-being of all, may there be civility, patience, decency, respect, and a generous measure of good manners. Our world needs people who tell the truth, demand the truth, and uphold the truth. And we need leaders who do the same and call on all of us to have “an open mind and…an open heart.” ***
May the best possible outcome prevail for the US election.
*The song was written by Zoe Mulford and later popularized by Joan Baez.
** The link to the New York Times opinion piece (October 27, 2020) is https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/27/opinion/trump-obama-2020.html
*** The quote is from the eulogy given by Barack Obama in 2015.