This past weekend we had the good fortune of attending the Bar Mitzvah of the son of dear friends. These particular friends have been living in the theatre of the absurd for the past few months and it was a joy to be with them in celebration instead of misery. (well perhaps both, but that is not what this post is about.)
Their synagogue is one with a very different style of worship. As Reconstructionist Jews they are encouraged to bring a piece of who their family is into the service. This included select non- sectarian readings of the likes of Robert Frost and Langston Hughes. They flatteringly included the lyrics to Better Things from a Time to Cry Tuesday past as well as the lyrics to songs that were dear to them and the ideals of their family.
I am here to post about one such song. Their eldest son, who holds the connection between our two families as we met when he and my daughter were in elementary school together, performed a song that just near broke my heart. He has grown into a really cool young man, one whom I enjoy spending time with and am honored that the feeling is mutual.
The rabbi introduced the song with a preface about the current military situation that our country has found itself in. He spoke about mothers, spouses and children who have suffered losses that get lost in the propaganda and politicization of these wars. This beautiful 19-year-old boy I have known for most of his life, got up with his guitar and sang the Dispatch song, The General.
I sat in this holy space and listened with my whole heart to the words of a young man who was fortunate to be born into a generation that has not known the draft. But with his words and through his heartfelt performance I felt the pain and fear we all hold for the families of the soldiers who so bravely volunteered for the armed services of this country. And I gave thanks that, for now, my 16-year-old son (whose birthday is today making this all the more poignant for me) is safe from the fear of being drafted.
The chorus of this is written from the point of view of a General in battle. It says it all:
I have seen the others
and I have discovered
that this fight is not worth fighting
I have seen their mothers
and I will no other
to follow me where I’m going
Take a shower, shine your shoes
you got no time to lose
you are young men you must be living
go now you are forgiven
May those who defend this country come home safely and may this madness end!