Before you answer that question, read on. Then watch the video and come back and tell us what you think.
I hadn't heard about this until last Saturday when a friend sent me an email with a link to the website where you'll find the video: "Born Again American", a project of Norman Lear and Declare Yourself. Sounded interesting, but also a bit off-putting. Of course, I had to check it out.
"Born again"" are two highly charged words in our culture. They carry a certain religious connotation that for some describes their experience of renewal and for others is a turn-off. Few of us are neutral on this subject.
Add the word "American"to the mix, and you get "Born Again American". Really? Born Again American? I resisted the urge to scoff because I do feel a renewed sense of pride and love for my country. I'm very proud that we elected Obama as our new president, but "born again"? I really didn't think I could swallow this as my brand of patriotism, even though I've always loved Norman Lear and what he's stood for. (OK, I'm a liberal's liberal in case you haven't guessed).
Then I watched the video. As I listened to the lyrics and took in the messages, "shift happened" and I came away with a different perspective. Open to the possibility of being a Born Again American, although, true be told, I'm still a bit squeamish about using the term.
However, I found the video inspiring and more importantly, I see the movement as one possibility among many for expanding the new activism created by Obama's candidacy and election. And I also see a connection with the theme we've been following here on the Hero's Journey. More on that in a bit.
What is the Born Again American movement?
From Michael Westmoreland-White over at Levellers:
In this latest project, Norman Lear has teamed up with singer/songwriter Keith Carradine and Director Mark Johnson to create a song, video, and website that promotes a "liberal patriotism" that encourages people to put the common good before narrow self interest, to become involved in community and national service, and to hold government officials responsible for working for the common good. (see lyrics here.)
The song espouses economic populism (chastising both big business and government for the destruction of the working class and middle class) and a spirit of unity across religious and racial lines. The website connects people with opportunities to serve and to get involved in holding government officials accountable.
Here's a link to the video. If you haven't already seen it, I encourage you to watch it all the way through (a little over 6 minutes) and pay special attention to the lyrics. The singers and musicians are all non-professionals, chosen not for their strength as performers, although they're great, but for the authentic stories they're singing. They're singing their hero's journey stories.
I've now watched the video 4-5 times. A note to readers about the lyrics:
There's one part of the song that blends religion with a kind of civic morality that may leave some a bit uneasy. The phrase, "My Bible and the Bill of Rights" struck me as slightly odd for a project like this. While honoring both the Bible and the Bill of Rights, I'm not totally comfortable using them in the same sentence. However, looking past that, I can still fully embrace the overall message and the spirit in which it is delivered. I'm curious to hear what you think.
Born Again Remix Challenge
An ancillary website: Remix America invites viewers to submit their own lyrics to the music, telling their own stories and become part of this larger song about the re-awakening of the American spirit.
Here's where we rejoin the Hero's Journey theme. In an earlier post: Restoring America's Soul: The Hero's Journey of Barack Obama found here, I suggested that Obama's Hero's Journey is an outward manifestation, symbolic of our collective yearning for unity and wholeness.
After the last eight years, we long to feel united as a country again. Putting aside partisan politics, we desperately want to believe in the vision President Obama has articulated. Democrat or Republican, we all agree on the need to restore our country's standing with the rest of the world and most of us really want to bridge the partisan gap and learn to care about each other again. We've lost something important to the soul of America and that is our connection to one another.
Yet there are cynics among us who will scoff at such optimism and hope this form of "liberal patriotism" fails. President Obama, mindful of old style of attack politics, warned in his inaugural address: "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply."
With all the "bad" news we're confronting, here's some "good" news.....
"Shift" Has Happened!
Those of us who have stood for transformation, lo these many decades, are getting to see the fruits of our labors. Carl Jung predicted the 21st century would be known as The Age of Transformation and we are beginning to see it becoming the prevailing paradigm of our time. We may not be totally there yet, but a critical mass of conscious, awakened human beings is closer than we think.
What if our collective Hero's Journey task is to bring our individual voices to the choir and sing a new song about America and what it stands for? The Born Again American project is an effort to do just that. To bring together all the voices in the choir, the many textured, rainbow colored, patch-work quilt that is America and provide a vehicle to literally sing our stories together, like strands in the quilt.
There are many ways to sing your song, tell your story, and add your voice to this choir. This is but one. If this one doesn't suit you, find another. Somehow, someway, somewhere, sometime before you die, your voice needs to be heard. Most of all; by you.
Consider that your Hero's Journey is about discovering your voice and singing the song you came to the planet to sing. Maybe your song is about being the best parent you can be, or the best teacher, lover, listener, friend, sister, brother, neighbor. Consider that your unique gift is like music and no one can play your music but you. The orchestra and choir are warming up. Are you ready to join in? There's a place that has your name on it.
Thanks to Norman Lear for bringing us this creative opportunity to sing our stories and open a new path for the journey to continue.
Could you be a Born Again American?
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