Jason Isbell is one of my bellwethers. He sings the things I’m feeling before I can put them in words.
Take, for instance, his new single “Hope the High Road.” It’s my new theme song. And not just because I enjoy just about everything the former Drive-By Trucker has done the past four years. No, he has tapped into the rich vein of my hopefulness.
The most important lyric to me (heck, it’s the title of the song):
Wherever you are, I hope the high road leads you home again.
Because where I am is, I have reached an accommodation with the election and its inevitable consequences—that there is and likely will continue for some time to be a President Trump. And he is going to be able to do some things I disapprove of—denigrate science, facts, and many people, especially vulnerable people. But he can be opposed. He can be held accountable. He can be constrained by values of compassion and hope. And maybe, maybe, as his governing faction splinters and fights among itself, he can be lured to less-pain-filled policy (if policy is even the right word for the product of his actions).
Personally, I can protect my sanity and my sense of humor. These last few weeks I have been silly more than I can remember in months. I count this a huge victory, as I think that part of the political strategy of these first 100 days was to overwhelm dissent with a barrage of mean-tempered executive actions and make people like me despair.
Well, I am not despairing. I am called to engage with and protect those who are most vulnerable AND engage with those who thought Trump was their only option, especially my friends, as they’re easier to grab a beer with than people in Kentucky. I don’t want to argue, because I don’t think arguing accomplishes anything. I don’t want to present an ideological alternative, because ideology is apparently at low ebb. What I want is to ask all people what home means to them, and invite them to consider how to make home a reality for everyone.
For me, home is:
- where I’m known
- a refuge
What is home to you? I’d love to read others’ replies below.
I think it’s possible we can walk this high road home together, at least those who choose to. And I have a glimmer of hope that our president can see that following this high road might give him the broader-based approval he so obviously wants. I wouldn’t go to Vegas and put money down on it, but hope isn’t a calculation.
And if we continue on the current track, I will grind it out and fight like heck for the values of liberty, compassion, and truth that are foundational to my home and to the motivators of our country’s best moments.
Which brings me back to Isbell and his song, which gave voice to my intentions:
So if you’re looking for some bad news
You can find it somewhere else
Last year was a son of a bitch
For nearly everyone we know
But I ain’t fighting with you down in a ditch
I’ll meet you up here on the road
2 thoughts on “Home and the High Road”
Thanks, Jim. That’s very kind of you.
Kevin: This was a pleasure to read. I, too, think Isbell is a great songwriter and your take on his stuff makes me appreciate it just a little more.