What’s the Difference

I was looking through YouTube when I found this song by Scott McKenzie.  I had not remembered hearing it before, it appears to have been lost in time.  However, all of a sudden, I understood some people I get so frustrated with.

I get frustrated with those on Wall Street who are oblivious to the hurt out in the streets, people losing their homes, the increased use of food banks and how the food banks barely have enough to get by.  I get frustrated with people who place blame on those who have been hurt worst by this recession.  I get frustrated when people with plenty claim they are “self made.”  I get frustrated when people have benefits that go with marriage for themselves and tolerate its absence for others.  I get frustrated with religious and ethnic intolerance, and with that intolerance being okay.

Here is the song:

What’s the Difference – Scott Mackenzie

Hey friend, wake up, can’t you see you are sleeping
How far can you go with unopened eyes
Treating your mind like it was something to play with
You’re sleeping on a featherbed of lies

So what’s the difference if you don’t wake up
You won’t know yourself when you finally do
You’ll look onto some mirror and won’t know what you’re looking at
So what’s the difference if you do

I have shared your journey from the beauty of childhood
To uniforms of flowers that you wear like some disguise
Until you can hear them when soft words are sung to you
You’re sleeping on a featherbed of lies

So what’s the difference if you don’t wake up
You won’t know yourself when you finally do
You’ll look onto some mirror and won’t know what you’re looking at
So what’s the difference if you do

They are sleeping on featherbeds of lies.  They are comfortable and warm and have been lulled to sleep.  They listen to the siren song that they are safe and comfortable.  It is easy to not see pain in this world if you are sleeping.  At some point, some will wake up (I did).  At some point, they may realize that there is suffering and anger out there, and that their world can’t be safe when so many are without.  I am not sure whether it will be in time, or whether it will be the result of the anger boiling over.  As long as they can walk down the street in relative comfort, what will wake them?  And if they do wake up … what’s the difference?  What will they do?

Some will not wake up.  Some will go through life asleep.  The featherbed of lies is soft.  But it is still lies.  Why should they wake up?  They are clean, they are fed, they are housed and they have money in the bank.  And if they do wake up, what can they do?  What’s the difference?

I remember the 60s, when our hopes and ideals were high, and we thought we were going to change the world.  I have seen my peers sell out to the big corporations and the comforts the sellout brought.  After marching to end a war, marching for civil rights, marching for gender equality, we have watched the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations slowly whittle away all we gained.  But we voted for them, we elected them, we supported them (I know the people here may not have, but so many of that generation did).  So in the end, what difference did we make?

After our lovely thanksgiving, where I saw my family warm and healthy and together and housed, I knew there had to be a difference.  I knew I had to make a difference.  We need to go back, to regain the rights we have so readily handed away, to get back the momentum for changes we know we need.  I guess that once again it is time to wake up.  Otherwise, that short span of idealism will have been wasted and the American Dream becomes nothing but a featherbed of lies.

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One thought on “What’s the Difference

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