It don’t come easy.
- Ringo Starr, “It don’t come easy”
- Don Henley, “The heart of the matter”
It’s The William Tell Show. I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill. Thank you for including me in your world today. I hope we all feel better than the President.
Ringo Starr is a mensch.
When I first became homeless, his song, “It Don’t Come Easy,” was just about my favorite favorite. The hook felt mystical and mysterious. The title, “It Don’t Come Easy,” seemed to speak to several things: first, the hard path I anticipated to find my way out of homelessness; secondly, the work I see that ANYONE has to do in life, just to be a decent person. And I had lived the previous five or six years among people whose lives are ratchet because they don’t want to do any work at all.
I will link to one of my earliest posts, which refers to this song. Things have not turned out as I anticipated; for me, life in homelessness has not been nearly as hard as anyone expects.
A lot of that may have to do with the fact that I don’t make life hard for myself or others. I seek always to make things as easy as I can, for everyone.
The first bridge in the song says this:
Please remember, peace
is how we make it,
here, within your reach,
if you’re big enough to take it.
Big enough to take it has two meanings here. First is the question of whether one can actually reach far enough, if one’s arms are long enough, to reach out and take it. Second is the question of whether you’re a big enough person, in a different sense, whether you’ve got enough heart and enough courage, to take it.
Someone who’s big physically, like a heavyweight boxer, can take a hit. In the fight scene between 007 and Odd Job, in the movie Goldfinger, James Bond hits the big guy again and again, and the big guy is completely unfazed. A small guy would have been really beat up.
So, how big are you? Not physically, but spiritually. Can you take a hit? How big a hit can you take? Are you big enough to reach out and take hold of — peace? That’s the question Ringo Starr is asking.
I’ve lived before among guys who would zap out if you made eye contact with them. Small men. Really small. Constantly thinking they’ve been insulted. Unable to take a hit.
Let’s take a break.
So there are a lot of small men, living in a world of small men, who regard themselves as proud, and stake everything on their pride; whereas I’m clueless what they’ve got to be proud of, and above all else, they sure can’t take a hit. In terms of an insult.
Pastor went to see the musical Hamilton, and loved it, and talked with me about it. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton fought a duel, something no mainstream people would ever do today, but in the worldview of that time, they deemed it absolutely necessary. Pastor said, “It was an honor culture,” like that which prevails in the ghettoes today. Guys get tattoos that say, “Death before dishonor,” and “dishonor” includes accepting an insult or walking away from a fight.
Aaron Burr felt he had been insulted by Alexander Hamilton — the Wikipedia article says they’d had an ongoing personal conflict for years — and the only corrective was to risk one man’s, or the other’s, life.
A 21st Century mainstream view might just ask each of them to grow up. But for those who live by an honor culture today, I don’t know how to say that. Such stuff is happening in the ghettoes today all the time. The feuds that occur among hip-hop artists are inexplicable to me. But that’s how Tupac Shakur — died.
I am going to link also to a forthcoming post, entitled “Willful defiance,” even though that won’t appear until October 24th. It brings up the question of pride, which, as far as its meaning goes among the disenfranchised lower class, is something I really do not understand.
OK, let me link also to the recently finished Chapter 19 of my little book, The Way of Peace, the chapter titled “Sacrifice.” The argument is made there that people may not be able to take a hit, who don’t have the wherewithal, don’t have enough self-esteem to be able to sacrifice any self-esteem.
The last three lines of Ringo Starr’s song go like this:
This love of mine
keeps growing all the time,
and you know, it don’t come easy.
What would it mean, to have a love that keeps growing all the time; what would it mean, to say that that don’t come easy? Is there work involved? Is it hard? Who do you love?
From Ringo’s description, it appears that this love involves loving more and more people all the time, loving them more and more fully, loving more and more kinds of people, loving those who are hard to love. One must have a singularly committed will, to do this.
It don’t come easy.
We have two pieces of music today. One is, obviously, “It Don’t Come Easy,” by Ringo Starr. The other is Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter,” which came to mind because it mentions pride. I don’t like me much Don Henley, but this is a pretty significant work.