Round here we talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs.
— Counting Crows
When I construct these columns, here’s how the process generally works: I get an idea in my little brain, write about it, then think back over my music collection to try and come up with song lyrics that fit the general theme of the column.
This one’s different, though. While heading home from Jasper, Ala., Sunday night, I kept a finger on the radio’s “seek” button, searching for the Falcons-Patriots game (yeah, I know, I’m a glutton for punishment). I finally landed on WWL-AM in New Orleans midway through the second quarter … but that’s getting off the subject.
While trying to find the game, I landed on a station playing a live recording of Counting Crows’ “Round Here,” and the lyric above jumped out at me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that line — taken from a song on the Crows’ 1993 debut album “August and Everything After” — sums up perfectly what’s going on in America today. We live in a time where the majority of Americans are content to talk big, like lions, but when the time for action comes, they roll over like lambs.
There were a number of significant periods in this country’s history when the people here stood up for their beliefs. Colonial Americans, fed up with unreasonable taxes, started a revolution against England that made America a free country (well, free for white males living here, but still). And shortly after World War I, American workers, forced to toil 70-, 80- and 90-hour weeks for slave wages and no benefits, unionized and forced wealthy industrialists to recognize their rights and compensate them fairly.
Blacks in America, most descendants of men and women brought here against their will by slave traders, tired of Southern Jim Crow laws that relegated them to less-than-second-class citizenship (and only slightly better treatment in most northern cities), so they took to the streets in the late 1950s and 1960s demanding civil rights guaranteed them by the Constitution. Their ultimate victory was hard-won and is still grudgingly acknowledged in some parts of the country.
And, late in the 1960s, mostly young people tired of seeing their ranks drafted into military service to fight in a war in Vietnam that was never truly explained to them, started a national anti-war movement, burning their draft cards and demanding that American involvement in Vietnam come to an end. They eventually saw peace brokered, but it was costly: Tens of thousands of their countrymen died in a conflict that has yet to be satisfactorily explained.
There are so many polarizing issues plaguing Americans today, it’s hard to figure where to begin. The government is actually “shut down” over petty party politics; there are still concerns over equal rights; Wall Street and the big banking industry have raped and plundered the poor and middle class almost to extinction with only laughable consequences; criminals practice their insidious arts at will, often with deadly automatic weapons readily available; individuals have discovered they can make more money doing nothing than the slobs who actually work for a living; the federal government is a shambles, two groups of old men caught up in a measuring contest, willing to allow the country to fall apart rather than work together to find a compromise (blasphemy!) that would actually benefit the people they represent …
And here’s what the majority of Americans do. They listen to some fat creep conservative radio blabbermouth drone on about what is right in America (God, guns, the GOP) and then send mass emails claiming his thoughts as their own. Or they log onto some sleazeball liberal “intellectual’s” website and send clever posts back and forth about what really should take place in our country (equal distribution of wealth, abolition of capital punishment, additional entitlements).
What they actually do? Nothing.
No one seems willing to admit that their ideology of choice — liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, tea party — as it currently exists isn’t working. They’ll defend it to their deathbed — and vote for the candidate that spews the correct rhetoric — even as unemployment soars, crime grows rampant, a never-worked-a-day-in-my-life generation gives rise to another generation that is destined to do the same, and the thieves in Washington and on Wall Street keep finding new ways to take from the poor. Yet we can’t even manage to work up enough righteous indignation to vote the pack of jackals out of office.
If ever a country was ripe for change — for a new revolution — it’s 2013 America. If ever people were justified in taking to the streets in protest (and not in “occupying,” but actually demanding that the Big Brother government halt its gradual usurping of our rights), it’s now. But “Duck Dynasty” is on TV tonight and I’ve got a business trip tomorrow and I have about 2,214 texts to send and I’ve got vacation time saved up that I’ve got to use or lose.
So we sit … and we talk like lions. And we sacrifice like lambs. God bless America … we need it.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.