I don’t make political statements in my songs. It’s not that I don’t have strong feelings about what’s going on in our world these days: worries and concerns, hopes and aspirations. It’s just that mostly, when I’m writing, these considerations are in the background. When I read about or witness what’s going on in the world – the inspiring stuff as well as the horrifying stuff – mostly I see that what’s happening, the things that are either bringing us up or pulling us down, can all be boiled down to how we treat each other. How I treat you, how you respond to me, how we are in relation to our children, to our elders, to those in need. How we honour and respect others, and ourselves as beings with some sort of divine spark. As living entities whose need for food, shelter and safety has to overshadow any political or national allegiances.
So while this song might appear as some sort of broad social or political statement, it’s really not that at all. It’s more of a call to take a look at what we’re actually doing when we’re allowing some sort of cause, whatever it may be, to blot out other elements of our basic humanity.
There is nobility in so many of our actions: selflessness and genuine caring, a striving to do what is right and just and honourable. Men who have gone to war down through the ages have been motivated by such feelings: have laid down their lives willingly because of them, time and time again, from time immemorial. And this stands to reason: for a true man, at his most essential core, is a protector. In the words of Red Hawk, my poet brother and friend,
Waiting for his star to rise in the firmament,
praying for his heart to catch fire and shine,
a man carries water to bathe
the women and children;
he holds, lifts, and turns
the old and the dying;
he forgets himself completely.
He is revered in the company of women
because he is tender hearted and kind,
a man who can be trusted
and for whom they have no fear.
(from “What I Would Tell Young Boys” in The Way of Power, Hohm Press 1996)
So my song is not a call for some kind of political or social change. It is, literally, a call to turn: to turn our attention away from separative belief systems, whatever they might be, to the things that, over the long term, really matter: to our home place, our community, our young and our elderly, to our earth and its ability to sustain us over time.
When the boots come off, our feet can feel the earth again. When we start to see different colours everywhere, more colours than we ever could have imagined, our world becomes immeasurably richer. And that, too, is what this song is about.