January 12, 2021
Stories become embedded in our culture long after their original meaning has faded in the mists of time. Ring Around The Rosie. It’s generally thought this rhyme can be traced back to the Great Plague of 1665. The plague caused a high fever and a ring shaped rash, the smell of which they tried to cover up by placing herbs and spices in their pockets. Ashes, ashes, is the American version of the English which was A-tishoo!, A-tishoo!, a reference to the sneezing fit people had right before they died…or fell down.
There are other interpretations. But this one seems most accurate and is certainly germane to this time of covid. Story, song, and rhyme. Long before Twitter and Facebook, this was their social media. This is how the stories were preserved and handed down even after 350 years. Today this nursery rhyme may seem benign. But the power and perseverance of our stories can be dangerous.
Right now in this nation we are dealing with a story that has been told over and over and over for the last five years. And although not in rhyme, the chants of lock them up and stop the steal have become embedded in the culture of an alarming number of Americans. The chants may not be around in 350 years, but their presence in this time is perpetuating armed violence and sedition. And it’s painfully clear that this story of a stolen election is not going away, despite all evidence to the contrary. Despite the number of court cases rejected by even the Supreme Court.
This is the power of the story. As we hear the stories of anger and hate and, at their root, white supremacy, must create a stronger and more powerful narrative of love and equality and social justice. A story that will last 350 years. And we must work to embed that story in our culture. Or we will all fall down.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org