Giving A Voice to the Voiceless

On the eve of Hurricane Isaac, I want to give Blue Jersey folks a poignant reminder of what this election is about.  As a Christian, educated by nuns for 12 years of my life, I have a pretty good idea of why the Nuns on the Bus are so upset about Paul Ryan's budget.  The thought of Paul Ryan in the White House a heartbeat away from the Presidency is a chilling one. His friends in the House of Representatives, including one E. Scott Garrett - my own Congressman, are Social Darwinists, who believe in Survival of the Fittest at the same time they close their minds to the science of evolution.  They are good at denying the existence of something while causing it to happen. Like Global Warming.

But the stakes in this election could not be higher.  We need to bring our A Game this election season. Here is why.  Too many people are counting on us.  We, who have voices, and pens, and keyboards, and I-Pads, and Twitter, and Facebook, and Blue Jersey, need to speak up. We need to give voice to the voiceless. There are people out there suffering. People who won't be able to vote, because they may not have permanent addresses, or voter ids, or a reason to care anymore.  People who may have given up.

Sometimes it seems overwhelming, how many folks have slipped through the cracks into poverty.  We become numb to the sheer numbers of people who need our help because how can we possibly ever help them all?  We are a country who immerses ourselves in our own little worlds with our personal earbuds to tune out the world and carve out our own little Zen space in the craziness. We medicate our uneasiness away and try to make ourselves comfortable in our own heads by eliminating any personal discomfort for ourselves.  The kind of discomfort with the way things are that might actually get us off the couch to help our fellow human beings.  We try so hard these days not to feel normal human emotions anymore.

We have to not look away.  

We need to face what our country has actually become, and we need to put it back on course.  We need to make our politicians see that we really do want them to care about people other than ourselves.  That cutting Medicaid is immoral. That cutting unemployment benefits hurts children.  That we have a growing homeless problem in a country choked with foreclosed homes.

Below is the story behind the song.

Last year, I was asked to sing a demo of a song written by a relative of mine who grew up in Jersey City, and who, as a boy, had run away from home.  The lyrics of the song so moved me, I could not bring myself to even sing it without breaking down right in the middle of it.  It took me a full week before I could sing it without weeping. Even talking about it makes me choke up.  It so sums up the reality of life for too many people in the United States today.  It is about two homeless girls.  The song was inspired by Hurricane Irene, when Tom Thiel was looking out the window and wondering where the birds go when a hurricane hits.  Around the same time, he came across a photo of graffiti under an overpass that prompted the first lines of the song. His own experience as a teen runaway helped him fill in the rest.

We recorded it in Ridgewood right around the time of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. I hope it moves you as much as it still moves me. There are vulnerable people out there every day.  People who need our help and who will be very much affected by what happens in this election.  Please give a voice to the voiceless and get involved any way you can.

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