Pete Seeger is 91 years old and he’s still at it. This time he has a new song to sing; he’s protesting the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you know, the one that’s turning that shoreline into an environmental nightmare of crude oil and muck. The song is both a social commentary on life in 2010, a call for all of us to get involved and a prayer of sorts, for a better future.
Amazing isn’t. Even after all these years, Pete Seeger has avoided the anger and cynicism that turns many bitter and silent. Instead, he seems as strong as ever and as hopeful as ever and if that isn’t an inspiration to you then I don’t know what ever could be.
The first concert I ever attended was in Boston in 1976, I believe, and it featured Pete on banjo, Jackson Browne on guitar and David Lindley on violin. It was a fundraiser for a group called the Clamshell Alliance which had been fighting and rallying for many years to stop the construction of two nuclear power plants in the coastal town of Seabrook, New Hampshire. By this time it was pretty clear that the plants would be built, but Pete and Jackson and David were still singing their protest songs; still holding out hope that the nukes would be stopped. They knew that it was up to them and that if they didn’t continue to fight the power then most likely nobody would.
I’m proud to say that I was at that show. And whenever I am in New Hampshire and come close enough to see the one nuclear power plant that still operates, I am proud that I was a very small part of the protest that may not have stopped construction but perhaps forced the builders to make the plant just a tiny bit safer that they might have.
The lives of people like Pete Seeger should stand as an inspiration to all of us to get involved, to as Pete would say, “think globally and act locally.” So today I ask that you listen to the song, to do what you can to protest it in the hopes that it doesn’t happen again.
In the hope that someday, maybe, “we’ll all pull through.”
Addendum: I was chatting via email with a great friend of mine and I was telling him about a really fantastic article that was published in the New Yorker that was written about Pete. Here’s the link. If you have a spare 15 minutes please read it. I know you’ll enjoy it: http://www.peteseeger.net/new_yorker041706.htm