I’m supposed to be working and reading up on the early laws of war. It’s part of my job to think about world conflicts. It’s in this state of mind when I think about how small we all are, and how in the scheme of things, even the hardest and biggest wars and impassioned advocacies are historical blips. What chance do individuals have? Even Shakespeare wasn’t in the all-time favorite lists until about 200 years later.
So I take a break and find Jim Henson’s Muppet Show, Season 3 with guest star Harry Belafonte. Mr. Belafonte performed his song Turn the World Around, which had been released abroad. Of course, Jim Henson was willing to do it first in the US. He would be a person to understand the song’s simple message. Mr. Belafonte sings it with specially made African puppets singing back up.
Here is what gets me though: As the song comes to a close, all the muppets come out to sing with him – Oh, oh, so is life! Abatiwa-ha! So is life. Fozzie and Rowlf, and Janice and Gonzo, even Statler and Waldorf! – the crabby guys in the balcony – all singing that song.
Watching this, politics seems so meaningless next to the flapping, singing Muppets. Singing about seeing each other clearly, and seeing ourselves, there are no peace talks or treaties or conference that can give the same message so powerfully, and so beyond what can be explained in any language that it can only be common to all. Seeing different muppets, different animals and personalities, come out to sing that song. I imagine peace to look or sound like that. Just kind of enjoying the music and singing along. Kind of unselfconscious about how you are so different from everyone around you, and knowing that difference is why you belong together
The language of wonder and silliness. That is something we all understand. We’re all alive aren’t we, and there is nothing more silly than our lives.
It’s been joked about, but I seriously think that the General Assembly of the United Nations could use the time for speeches to instead watch the Muppets and Monty Python and Mr. Bean and Jacques Tati and whoever else is out there that is the best of subversion and idealism. I don’t know why in the professional world our secret pleasures have to be secret. The fact that we know all the words to Barry Manilow should be out there right at the negotiating table. Maybe we can just discourse in song. Start every session with a cartoon.
Why I cry and why my heart breaks though is the frustration of not knowing how to share with people this feeling of having something reach into your heart and make everything make sense. Especially something as colourful and funny as the Muppets. How simple things could be, and how wise our ancestors have always been. How do I pass it on?
I actually do like politics and the law – I mean, the whole spirit of it. The spirit of it is actually, well, quite spiritual. Wilde said that “everything to be true must be a religion.” This is true because just as love is a religion, democracy is treated as religion, individualism as well, communism as well, all of it. Everyone’s truth becomes their religion. Something to love over, and sometimes to die over.
The practice of politics and law, well, we all know that. It’s like hanging out with people who’ve labelled themselves as Christ followers but spit at or attack gays. Doing what I do and knowing it’s such a crappy way to get what I want done, looking at “important documents” and knowing that the better message is found Mr. Harry Belafonte and the Muppets on youtube, and not knowing how to live and work with the two together, this is heartbreak. I wish I could make funny muppet songs. I suppose I could always try.
Love, we are one, we are each other, we are the earth, we are godlike, the Kingdom of God is in us, the universe is in us. Why do we pretend we don’t understand it across cultures and languages. It seems only politicians, and people like me most of the time, since I forget, don’t really understand it. These are soooo old. We are soooo dumb not to know it enough to live it, and always.
How do I go back to work now?