I’ll say it up front, I’m neither a huge sports fan nor a Pop Music fan. My ideal evening is usually spent reading a book, enjoying some quality science fiction or listening to classical music (so, I’m a nerd!) or any number of my podcasts to which I am subscribed. As such, I did not catch Superbowl LI or the halftime show. My wife, however, is far more in tune with popular culture and music than myself and was very keen on this year’s half-time show (as she is every year). A couple days ago we watched Lady Gaga’s half-time performance on YouTube. I confess, the sheer spectacle of the event had me floored and I found a newfound respect for Lady Gaga. I also found myself particularly touched by the performance of “Million Reasons.”
It has been a highly contentious year for America and has divided our nation and our communities. While I don’t watch sports as part of my recreational time, I understand that the Super Bowl is a American cultural experience where we seek a break from partisan politics and where a large cross-section of the American citizenry can unite over a singular sporting event; an event where the only thing that divides us is our allegiances to our favored football team. Yet, despite this desire to retreat from the world of politics (if only for an evening), the current circumstances we are all caught up in have caused us continue to battle the extreme views that continue to threaten those that are different, our liberties and the pursuit of open and informed dialogue.
This is not a bad thing. For me, it is heartening to see so many people maintaining the energy and desire to remain engaged and fight the injustices we all face as a collective society. I can’t claim to be a mind reader. Is “Million Reasons” a political statement by Lady Gaga. I don’t know. What I can say is this: I connected with the song in a very real way. Can it be considered love song? Absolutely. Whether it is an expression of love in a person-to-person relationship or whether it’s an expression of love and heartbreak between a citizen and their country it is a powerful message to us all. And believe me, I understand! We have all been subjected to quite a number of heartbreaks by the country I still proudly call my home.
Lady Gaga (still feel strange typing her name in a political blog for some reason), echoed my own sentiments. With a million reasons…a million tweets I just want to shut myself away from the news and simply stop engaging in politics. I have to fight the urge to give up and submit because of the oppressive and suffocating nature of these million reasons to quit and walk away. Surprisingly, in moments of quiet, I find myself silently praying that things will get better in a vain hope attempting to “try and make the worst seem better.” We are but human, and our irrational emotions and missteps through life as individuals and as a nation make “keeping the faith” incredibly difficult. Yet, remembering the good may yet be that faint glow of light; that one reason to not give up. Perhaps its your children, your wife, a sibling, a lover (who knows!) but perhaps that’s where you can draw strength to stay with America.
The only challenge I would pose to you, is to reverse the lyrics of the song: We’ve been given one, incredibly powerful reason to walk away from America this year…but there are a hundred million reasons to stay. To be more precise we have over 325 million reasons to stay. As a community we owe it to our families, our friends, our neighbors and our children (born and unborn) to be persistent in our defiance. It’s a mental exercise, sure, but it’s a one way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by every breaking news event…every new tweet from Trump…every alternate fact and outright lie delivered by his cronies.
It’s a glass half-full mentality we need to cultivate in order to survive this marathon run against hatred and autocracy. My friends, we are not alone…though it may feel like we are isolated. Travis McElroy (@travismcelroy) of podcast fame…specifically Trends Like These has a similarly compassionate and warm message through his simple message of “I am holding your hand.” It’s been sometime since the election and the initial shock associated with it has since worn off, but I would encourage you to listen to Travis’s fireside chat he published via twitter following the election results, it’s a valuable message and a sentiment that we, as a nation, need to embrace…and one that I personally share.
There’s so much in today’s world that scares me and causes me to remain pessimistic about the future. Yet, there was a bittersweet moment where I was moved and had a moment of optimism in an otherwise toxic two years. Stay engaged and stay positive America. Persist. Resist. Question.
What do you think? Am I off base. Did you find yourself connecting in some way with Lady Gaga’s half time performance as well? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.