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#MM — Music Challenges — “I” of the storm

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Jim Adams is the dynamic host of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Music Challenge. Jim says:
The challenge today is to focus on [Cat Stevens’ song, Where do the Children Play] and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, a piece of flash fiction, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.) that you can share with the writing community.

I’ve always loved the deep sensitivity, spirituality, and humanity of Cat Stevens’ songs. I knew he had dropped out of the music business and changed his name but not that he was running schools for children and spreading his messages. I do remember a blip on the screen with his response to Salman Rushdie’s book, but it doesn’t diminish his impactful musical catalogue.

Getting to the lyrics of this song, which is about infringing on the ability of children who should be able to enjoy living on a planet that has unencumbered space for them to be children, carefree and able to play. This song came out in 1970, which is almost 50 years ago. Cat’s questions then were rhetorical and designed to get the reader/listener thinking about their actions and how those actions interfere with quality of life for their loved ones, i.e. their children, children’s children, and onward. Do you think they are still rhetorical?

Cat says, “Oh, I know we’ve come a long way” and I have to ask in what ways did Cat see we had come a long way, where the implication is that we had moved forward, toward a better place. 50 years later, just how far have we come?

Looking at Mother Gaia, our Planet Earth, as a giant organism that has miraculous powers of restoring homeostasis/balancing no matter how full-steam-ahead-to-destroy us humans are. The elements of her systems circulate throughout the entirety of her surface. The butterfly effect says everything matters and ripples throughout the system. Knowing what we know about what we are doing to Our Mother Earth, be honest and realize that the children are caught in our web of dastardly deeds with no means of escape.

An unanswerable question for me is why humans willingly choose to foul land, water, air, and everything – and everyone – in between for toxic dreams of wealth and power. Some belief systems push humans as the rulers and all else is under their dominion. A point of view starting there can’t help but separate humans from everything else. Human separation from nature is what allows rationalizations to commit planet-cide.

I’m going to “do a duet” with Cat now, where his lyrics are in italics and mine are not.

Well I think it’s fine, building jumbo planes
—–Our skies are saturated with flying metal and satellites
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train
—-Our spirits are grounded in wasteland’s mud
Switch on summer from a slot machine
—–Burned by solar flares and drowning in addiction
Yes, get what you want to if you want
—–Impulses and instant gratification rule our lives
Cause you can get anything
—–Where – and when – do we draw the line?
I know we’ve come a long way
—–We’re spinning our wheels, rolling backwards down the hill
We’re changing day to day
—–Human nature, stuck in a paralyzing rut
But tell me, where do the children play?
—–Children now electronic slaves, numb to destruction’s storm
Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass
—–Forests die for subdivisions and factory farmed animal flesh
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas
—–Fracking and oil wars are in perpetual season
And you make them long, and you make them tough
—–Anti-Nature God of Destruction’s Fury Road
But they just go on and on, and it seems that you can’t get off
—–Strapped in on Chaos’ Carousel of Annihilation
Oh, I know we’ve come a long way
—–Relentless marching towards humanity’s end
We’re changing day to day
—–More numb, more desensitized, more paralyzed
But tell me, where do the children play?
—–Minds play among the pixels while bodies waste away
Well you’ve cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air
—–When Mother Gaia shudders with last gasping breath
But will you keep on building higher
—–What will the hollow edifices to greed feel for her death?
‘Til there’s no more room up there?
—–Legos resting on what was once nature’s magnificence
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
—–Empty laughter and those who can, cry contaminated tears
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?
—–We’ve chosen to walk hand in hand with matricide
I know we’ve come a long way
—–Have we gone too far to change our minds?
We’re changing day to day
—–Change our path of “funeral marches to the grave*”?
But tell me, where do the children play?
—–A kernel of hope at the “I” of the storm.

*line from Longfellow’s, “A Psalm of Life”

Songwriter: Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens)

9 thoughts on “#MM — Music Challenges — “I” of the storm

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