"I guess the closer you are to the situation, the more extreme emotions you have about it, but it seems to me the old golden rule, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' or 'treat other people like you want to be treated' ... Treat those kids like they were your kids."
-- Willie Nelson
Known for his country outlaw music with Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and others, at one time "they called Willie crazy, but nowadays they call him a saint." This is indeed true when Tejanas and Tejanos saw Willie rise to the occasion as hate toward refugee children reached a fevered pitch in Murrieta, California, when anti-immigrant protestors were terrorizing the children as they blocked buses while spewing anti-Mexican rhetoric (even though these kids were from Central America). The anti-immigrant hate speech carried over to the border convoy caught in Texas of more anti-immigrant protestors.
Many of us were deeply affected with a painful reminder of the broken immigration system that could have prevented this situation. The Democratic-led Senate passed immigration reform over one year ago, and the likes of Speaker Boehner who is in control of the House of Representatives continue to block the vote at the House level with no signs of forward progress to fix the broken system. Now President Obama has no choice but to do what he can within his legal purview and jurisdiction in light of immigration inaction by the House.
I have believed for some time how a musician can be more influential than a political pundit. Politics is something of a bore -- it can be dark, complex with evil tentacles tempting people to support bad motives. Political pundits seem to be losing their edge as their columns and/or opinions are only worth their salt for a day or two because political mundane topics equate to a loss of interest leading to further lack of knowledge. That said, it is the norm for people to equate music to joyful, peaceful memories and/or things they can relate to -- and this is why when someone like Willie Nelson chimes in on political matters, the ripple affect is massive news for Texas that can permeate forever.
As a Texas-born woman, I am grateful and feel indebted to Willie for his bravery in support of these small and young refugee children. When I heard wind of the news via the San Antonio Express, immigration activists were on a high for days and felt it's power in the Spirit world.
According to the Rolling Stone:
Nelson also offered his thoughts on the 60,000 Central American children who have crossed the Texas border in the past year who are now sleeping in makeshift holding cells. "I've been watching, and the only thing we can do is take care of those kids, whatever it takes," says Nelson. "Take them in, give them some medical attention. I'm sure there are homes all over the country that would be glad to take care of one or two kids.
"They're scared," adds Nelson, whose parents left him to be raised by his grandparents when he was an infant. "They're being mistreated. And it's not a good way to start off your life. But it's a good opportunity for us to show a little bit of humanitarianism and take care of those kids. I know a lot of people want to send them back. I guess the closer you are to the situation, the more extreme emotions you have about it, but it seems to me the old golden rule, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' or 'treat other people like you want to be treated' ... Treat those kids like they were your kids."
I hope Willie secures several generations of music enthusiasts from one of the fastest growing demographics in our Nation. I am confident Tejanos, Chicanos and Latinos will not forget his compassionate Texas act signaled during dire neighborly times. This is not a bad Tejano spot to be for Willie's continued legendary status particularly when Regional Mexican music is the top-selling genre of Latin music in the United States.
No stranger to activism, he has a strong history of supporting his community most notably Farm Aid when Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land.
Mere political pundits forget the "unity" message when they increase divisiveness in our "United" States. Many of them add fuel to the fire when stubborn lines are drawn between Democrats and Republicans when resolutions ought to be based on the issues -- not necessarily the team you are on when toeing the party line. The United States is essentially one big team, and it appears that Texas Willie Nelson fully understands that. Nelson embraces love, life, and positive political messages. Musicians who have a sincere concern for the direction of our nation ought to rise up as Willie did. As such, musicians who courageously stand up for life and love will benefit with a growing demographic who will innately be loyal to the artists who have compassion for their community and children.
Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of love.
Note: Dedicated to Mark Lane who held steady even though he received death threats for taking in refugee children.