Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Looking Through Corrective Lenses

Imagine, if you will, a world in which everyone looks alike, thinks alike, listens to the same songs, and follows the same religion. What if “free will” was meaningless because everyone had the same options, the same talents, the same perspectives? What if no one could disagree? Although some claim they want such a world and are willing to kill to create it, I doubt the majority would be satisfied when they got their wish. If “free will” is meaningless, so is life.

The brilliant biographical film RAISE HELL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS demonstrates why many conservatives mourned along with liberals when journalist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer in 2007. Smith and Columbia educated Texan Molly was brutally honest with barbs she dressed in down-home humor. She didn’t worry about offending authority. She worried about reflecting the real world. When she was asked why she went home to Texas to write when her talent had won her fans throughout the nation, she explained that being a liberal in California, she’d blend in. Big red Texas needed her blunt minority female perspective. The voices of minorities pump fresh blood into democracy. When people seemed seduced by the rhetoric of political candidates, she used the title of one of her books to remind them the official they elected might eventually disappoint them: YOU GOT TO DANCE WITH THEM WHAT BRUNG YOU. She wanted voters to pay attention and use their collective power to protect themselves from political self-interest.

Some of her subjects called her cruel as she wrote criticisms such as the following: “Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan’s speech; it probably sounded better in the original German.” She nicknamed former president G.W. Bush “Shrub.” But she was careful who she targeted. In an interview for PEOPLE magazine in 1991, she said, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful…. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel, it’s vulgar.”

Molly Ivin’s plain-speak, people-language works well beside the working-class musical poetry of Bruce Springsteen. In fact, Springsteen himself was taken aback when Gurinder Chadha and Sarfraz Manzoor wanted to use his songs and lyrics in BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a 2019 film inspired by Manzoor’s memoirs. In the film, Javed, the son of a Pakistani immigrant to Britain, clings to Springsteen’s music as a lifeline to pull him through the morass of blatant racism in the streets and his father’s authoritarianism. Javed reacts to his own powerlessness by expressing his struggle in writing. Like Ivins, his voice doesn’t always match the mainstream, but it resonates. It reminds us that humanity was designed to be diverse. Underneath, conservatives and liberals, immigrants and native-borns share the same basic needs. We act as corrective lenses for one another.

One comment on “Looking Through Corrective Lenses

  1. Frances Sullivan
    June 6, 2020

    Like this a lot. Another push in the right direction, methinks. Thanks, SAH. x

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