Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pete Seeger's legacy

My Facebook feed has been flooded with reactions to the recent passing of Pete Seeger.  Two things about it are annoying me:
  1. Everyone wants to brag that they were friends with Pete Seeger.  They feel they were his friend, and they feel that makes them a more important person.  However the way I see it is that it's a reflection on him, not on the people who claim to have been his friend.  He was the  kind of person who made people feel that they were his friend, and also made them feel more connected to each other.  
  2. People want to memorialize him as a hero.  They want to name bridges after him.  He would have found that very objectionable.  
When people are inspired by something -- a person, a book, a place, an object, a ritual, a way of living -- they try to set it in stone.  But when you set it in stone, you detract from it.  The sacred cannot be tied down.

When we sat in Pete Seeger's concerts, it was as if we were a row of candles getting lit.  Now our job is to carry that light to all corners of the earth.  The way to honor Pete Seeger is not to name a bridge after him.  The way to honor him is to sing songs, build community, work for peace and justice, and care for the environment.

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