Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a life off broadway

What music do you listen to on your birthday?

Me?  I pulled out the score to Stephen Sondheim's masterful Assassins.  It is not to everyone's liking.  In fact, several of my friends find it downright offensive.

Not me.  The musical is based around the four successful assassins of American presidents and four who were merely wannabes. 

But that is not the core of the production.  The theme is the promise of the American dream that everyone has a natural right to pursue happiness, but far too many people pervert that natural law into a political heresy -- that they have the right to a guaranteed outcome of happiness.  And, if it does not happen, they feel cheated -- by a vague "someone."

And that is at the core of the current political debates in the United States.  On one hand, some people argue that in a free system, people should not be restricted in their pursuit of happiness.  The other side says, what is the use of pursuing something if you cannot have it?  And we end up with the gridlock that we face in American politics.

Of course, the heresy is not limited to the United States.  Canada.  Western Europe.  There are plenty of happiness-guaranteed seekers.  And the path is a dead end.

The most obvious practitioners are the people who have become so frustrated with not getting their happiness that they have sought it by killing a president.  Simply because they have confused the pursuit with the promise of a prize.

That misplaced sense of glory is summed up in Lee Harvey Oswald's claim that he is not a murderer when John Wilkes Booth suggests that Lee could shoot President Kennedy:

Lee, when you kill a president, it isn't murder.  Murder is a tawdry little crime; it's born of greed, or lust, or liquor. Adulterers and shopkeepers get murdered. But when a president gets killed, when Julius Caesar got killed -- he was assassinated.

It is a bit ironic that I picked those songs to play today.  We had our own assassination on the bypass road around Melaque on Sunday evening.  A local man was shot four times in the forehead.  His truck had 20 bullet holes.  The local online newspaper called it an execution.

All sorts of rumors are running amok.  And I will not add to them.

What I do know is that he was a father, a son, and a husband -- and there are family members grieving over his body as I write this.

I was about to add a link from a favorite film.  But I have removed it.  It would only add speculation where grace should reside.

There is no guaranteed happiness.

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