Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The More Things Change...

Sometimes we forget that the problems in the world did not spring up fully grown during our time today. Sometimes we forget that the past is grandmother to the future. I remember our singing what follows as kids and actually laughing at what we thought was its absurdity. Kind of ironic given the content.

In 1953 Orson Bean did a revue number called Merry Little Minuet, and The Kingston Trio later performed it on one of their concert albums, “Kingston Trio At The Hungry i.” (1960s) The song neatly described world conditions at that time, including a newly-impending threat of nuclear disaster. It went like this:

They're Rioting in Africa (The Merry Minuet
(Sheldon Harnick)

There are days in my life when everything is dreary
I grow pessimistic, sad and world weary.
But when I'm tearful and fearfully upset
I always sing this merry little minuet:

They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans,
The Germans hate the Poles

Italians hate Yugoslavs
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much

But we can be grateful
And thankful and proud
That man's been endowed
With a mushroom shaped cloud

And we know for certain
That some happy day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away

They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

Rioting in Africa? Strife in Iran? Someone setting off a spark? Many sparks? Threat of attack? Ripped out of today's headlines. Truly, the more things purport to change, the more they stay the same. Just business as usual.


Anonymous said...

I had a professor once (hint, hint) who mentioned that people always like to say that if people from centuries back were suddenly transported through time to our time period they wouldn't recognize the world any more. She commented that maybe they wouldn't recognize the things that surround us but they would instantly recognize the relationships between countries. The record of mankind is written in strife and warfare.
Just in case you thought that no one was listening.:)

Anonymous said...

"no one listening"???

Are you kidding? This is one of my favorite blogs because it is regularly updated with extremely interesting commentary, ideas, and content!!!