Leonard Cohen wrote the song “Hallelujah,” and toward its end there’s a lyric that goes, “Now I’ve done my best, I know it wasn’t much/I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come here just to fool ya/And even though it all went wrong I’ll stand right here before the Lord of song/With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.”
You’ve probably heard the tune before. It’s been featured in numerous movies and television programs over the last couple of decades. I like it and all of Cohen’s music because he focuses exclusively on trying to do right in a world of cowards, hypocrites, panderers, liars, and politicians. Once again – being a politician has NOTHING to do with holding public office. A politician is someone who has no problem going along with anything just so long as it benefits them in the end.
These people are the focus of a lot of Cohen’s songs because of their fast and loose concepts of truth and honesty.
Honesty – that’s a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Listening to Cohen while cutting the grass and clearing some brush, I found myself repeating this bridge:
“I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
Ring the bells that still can ring.”
I love music because it can mean different things to many people. To me, this portion addresses the political among us, those who see the truth as malleable to be wielded as a weapon in whatever way benefits them at the time.
I have always prided myself on honesty because a liar isn’t a man. My daddy and my football coach taught me that. A liar is worse than a thief. A gland-hander is worse than a idolater. Without honesty you’ve got the Republic you’ve got today, one moving ever closer to the edge, toward rot and ruin. Rome reborn. The go along to get along crowd? The time and a place crowd? The play the game crowd? Gag me with a spoon.
You see, different opinions are my favorite opinions. I love someone who disagrees with me. Without disagreements I have no idea if I’m right or wrong because I have nothing to challenge me. What is to be loathed is the schemer, the manipulator, the guy with two accents for two different groups. The mask wearer and the forked-tongued bearer. Harvey and his two faces.
Rather than fame, rather than money, give me truth. The cowards cannot be trusted and the ever-growing societal aversion to uncomfortable truths may be saving your individual backside but only for a little while.
“There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reachin’ down
When the man comes around
The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror in each sip and in each sup
Will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear into the potter’s ground?
When the man comes around.”
There are no more Pauls. No more Patrick Henrys. No more Martin Luthers. No more Dr. Kings. No more August Landmessers. We’re left with a nation of Tucker Carlsons and Elizabeth Warrens and Donald Trump Jrs.
Thou shalt not lie. Be honest and if you can’t be honest just be quiet. Silence can be golden in a post-Christ world. I’ve discovered I’m saying less and less and less.
Maybe one day I’ll just speak no more. And that’s ok. I’d rather be silent than not say the words I truly feel. I’d rather be mute than say the words of one who kneels.
Let it be written on my grave marker: “I’ve told the truth. I didn’t come here just to fool ya.”
(Josh Beavers is an award winning writer and author. He has earned more than 40 individual writing awards and is syndicated in 12 North Louisiana news journals. The Louisiana Press Association has recognized him five times for excellence in opinion writing, and he has earned numerous Best Investigative Reporting Awards and Freedom of Information Awards for exposure of governmental corruption in Webster Parish.)