Sunday, June 14, 2015

Time Has Come Today

By Bob Ferris
The Chambers Brothers
Late last fall I was driving over a ridge top and emerged from some thick fog with my radio playing as background, but that changed when I heard the initial and iconic cowbell ticking of the Chambers Brothers’ classic “Time Has Come Today.”  And the volume goes up.

You have to understand that this was the full-metal jacket, 11-plus minute version not some watered down, AM-get-to-the-next-song-payola rendering.  And it rocked me on so many different levels just as it did nearly 50 years ago when I first heard its sharp and poignant strains.   So hold on (listen below).

The first resonate chord was the thrust of the song which basically keeps hitting on the theme that it is “time” to act.  Since that was the message then and certainly plays well today, the song becomes in a sense timeless (sorry.)  It was an anthem the 1960s and it needs to become one now.

Time has come to act on climate change.  Time has come to deal decisively with bigotry in all forms. Time has come for this nation to regain its place in the world as the brightest and best.  Time has come for broad scale political reforms and a recapturing of our democracy.  Time has come for fear, ignorance and selfishness to no longer be the forces that drive (and drag down) this country, the media and our policies. Time has come to reverse the inequity created over the last half century that is pushing many to working penury. Time has come for compassionate and visionary leadership. And the list goes on and on:Time…time…time…time.

Most of us who are not part of the problem or actively enabling it understand that decisive action needs to be taken and taken now (i.e., Time has come today).  It is no longer entertaining or even interesting that while 97% of the scientists embrace climate change and our role in that phenomenon that a large portion of the current presidential candidates are of a completely other mind on the topic. And while it is amusing to watch these candidates and other politicians dance around the Pope and his recent pronouncements on climate change, we also must see the tsunami-sized sucker punch represented by the Koch brothers and friends pledging nearly a billion to the 2016 election and also contemplating buying a newspaper or two.  While we should all think that being politically active is just fine, we should be opposed to the notion of a family or a relatively few overly enriched individuals buying our country simply so they can further control, pollute, and destroy it.  (Cuckoo indeed.)

The song pulses into frequent crescendos which should reflect our own growing dissatisfaction with the current conditions and emerging trends.  Our educational opportunities are being choked and under-funded.  Our air and water are being poisoned and acidified (1,2).  Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, water systems, etc.) and public amenities (parks and other public lands) are being neglected, degraded and often sold at a fraction of their real worth.  There is a quiet and profound anger in this song that we should also see in the mirror of our lives every morning.

Clearly there is a lot to this song and what it should represent to most Americans, but there is a relevant backstory here too.  Lester Chambers whose song has inspired us for nearly 50 years and been played in nearly 100 movies is broke and living on Social Security.  Not because he was profligate, but because he was used, abused, and discarded by the very system he helped make rich (see CNN story here).  In this we are all mostly like Lester Chambers in that we all contributed or are contributing to making this country great and rich yet our future prospects of living well are increasingly shortchanged by the very system and players that we enrich.  Time has come today to change this dynamic.

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