The Conscience of a Society

Pete Seeger has passed away at age 94. That’s what an alert from the Wall Street Journal on my iPhone told me this morning. He was the conscience of the nation at a time of great changes in our society. I was greatly influenced by him. I can see many of the things he saw about society, but in the end I lack his courage to live an entire life as a conscience.

In that fear part of the 50s and the rise of Joseph McCarthy, he was branded a communist and lost the ability to earn a living for many years. Still, he persisted. He followed the footsteps of another folk-singing legend–Woody Gutherie. And some who followed him, such as Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow of the group Peter, Paul & Mary, did not have the same stamina.

I wonder who is today’s conscience. In America, is it John Stewart? Not the same. Most likely Bono of U2 fame.

Seeger probably looked like our mental image of some of the Old Testament prophets. He was like some of them. He saw injustice in society and pointed it out. Much as those old prophets, he was not often revered. Instead often ridiculed, despised.

Still, the last time I heard him, he was firm to his convictions and ever watchful of the movements in society. Still seeking a society that has justice for all. Still pointing out shortcomings.

As the prophet Amos said (5:24), “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Seeger lived that. Why do I fall short?

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