‘Blowin’ in the Wind’

Bishop Peggy Johnson

I remember buying a Peter, Paul and Mary album when I was in 7th grade. I sat in the basement with my friends that summer, and listened to every cut of this folk music record over and over again.

It was during the time of the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam War. Songs about justice and peace were in the air. No song on that album struck my young heart more than Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ in the Wind.” It was asking all the right questions:

“How many times must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banded?
“How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?”
“How many times must a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?”
“How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”

With each verse, the wistful refrain in three-part harmony replied: “The answer, my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

What did that mean?  I was never quite sure.

Maybe the answer was as obvious as the summer wind blowing through the trees in the backyard. Or maybe it was something more mysterious and unattainable. It seemed to me at the time that the grown-ups could be doing more about the troubles in the world with all its unrest, violence, war and inequality.

That was over 50 years ago, and this old world of ours continues to suffer from the same injustice and violence. Verses of this song still ring in my heart, as once again we hear about a troubled young man who charged into a high school with a semi-automatic weapon and took multiple lives in just minutes.

How many deaths will it take before we know that too many people have died in our country from these weapons of mass destruction that are so readily available?  When is it time to do something about this?  Will it take 50 more years to find the answer?

Ezekiel 12:1-2 gives a Biblical foundation to Dylan’s lyrics: “Oh mortal, you dwell among a rebellious breed. They have eyes to see but see not; ears to hear, but hear not.”

It is my prayer that we will hear the voices and see the pain of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and all those other victims of senseless gun violence. It is my prayer that we will take action now to make this world a safer place. That can mean writing letters to law makers, having conversations with people who have various perspectives, teaching non-violence and gentle ways of being in this world, attending rallies against gun violence, and most importantly, prayer.

Prayer is always blowin’ in the wind, as God’s people evoke the power of the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God, to do good in this world. I pray that more of us will catch that spirit, feel its power and be moved to action by it, inspired to see, to hear and to do the good works of peace and justice to which God calls each of us. Amen.

Republished from The Bishop’s Blog.