With a career that encompasses five Grammys, numerous chart successes and personal and professional accolades, as well as collaborations with some of the world’s most prominent artists, Michael McDonald remains an enduring force in popular music. Hailing from St. Louis, McDonald arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, honing his talents as a studio musician before becoming an integral part of Steely Dan. In the mid-’70s McDonald was invited to join the Doobie Brothers as the band redefined their sound with McDonald serving as singer, keyboardist and songwriter on such Top 40 singles as “Takin’ It To The Streets,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes.”
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s McDonald’s solo career took off with a string of hits including “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “Sweet Freedom,” “On My Own” (with Patti LaBelle) and the Grammy-winning James Ingram duet “Yah Mo B There,” plus he co-wrote the Van Halen hit “I’ll Wait.” McDonald has performed with a who’s-who of critically acclaimed artists across a number of genres, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Vince Gill, and Grizzly Bear.
(Photo Credit: Timothy White)
What has become increasingly apparent in the weeks since the last State Of The Union Address is the ever-widening disconnect between the Trump administration’s grasp of reality and the actual state of our union. How can we Americans take seriously an address that barely even makes mention of the unprecedented opioid epidemic responsible for more American deaths than terrorists and drug lords combined? Countless innocent victims are dying at the hands of big pharma’s aggressive marketing with the cooperation of willfully irresponsible health care providers.¹ I wonder if there’s anyone left in this country who doesn’t know of some family affected by this national tragedy?
Then there’s the worldwide climate crisis which, more than anything else, is destined to exacerbate whatever growing migrant/refugee problem may actually exist. As the number of regional conflicts grows — caused by extended drought — the resulting crop failures and ensuing famine will continue to escalate into wars worldwide. This is a fear shared by our own military analysts²; soon, caravans of 7-10,000 desperate asylum seekers will seem like the “good old days.” We will watch the numbers multiply to include the hundreds of thousands of humans who’ve become increasingly more desperate, and this current administration’s wall will go the way of all walls historically.
The lack of comprehension in the midst of a newly-escalating nuclear arms race, the shortsighted views of this train wreck administration punctuated by the inanely simplistic tantrums over campaign promises concerning the southern border, and mindless determination to treat symptoms with band-aid solutions while ignoring the larger, looming global problems that cause them are just a few examples that bear witness to the ushering of this country into the dark age that is the Trump presidency.
As we turn our backs on our allies, becoming increasingly more isolated from the free world, and forsake our role as a leading influence toward its collective interests philosophically, politically and environmentally, we can only expect that these problems will grow exponentially and that our enemies will be quick to exploit the situation.
We are in fact retreating from the heretofore greatness of America at an alarming rate. It is a greatness purchased with the blood of Americans who’ve paid the ultimate price for generations, not just on foreign shores but on the very streets and backroads of this nation. Americans who’ve led us in our darker hours with phrases like “I have a dream,” and not the toxic rhetoric of blame and scapegoating.
Obviously, if we’re looking for saints — or even merely choirboys — to serve this country’s government and lead us, we’re most likely not going to find them. After all, who can possibly stand up to the scrutiny of social media at this point? I wonder if instead we need to look more toward the potential of those who see their mission in life as preserving a government that protects the most vulnerable, upholding their dignity and the rights guaranteed them by our constitution.
It’s time to dismantle and move away from what is clearly an authoritarian regime whose main preoccupation is ultimately the punishing of anyone who disagrees with its policies; policies which benefit the few and seek to silence the many. We have only to remember recent history or look around the present day world to easily find grim examples of where this administration is going.
As a tax paying citizen of my country who has always believed that our mission as the United States of America is to be an honorable example to the world, I believe we need to remember that no nation, race, or religion holds an exclusive claim to righteousness any more than they do to terrorism, intolerance and injustice. Islam would have to work very hard to catch up with God-fearing Christianity to match it in terms of acts of terrorism and violence perpetrated on American soil. We’ve been burning witches, practicing human trafficking and genocide, and hanging people from silos and trees in an effort to strike fear in their hearts for over two hundred years.
At our very best our goal remains progress, not perfection. I pray that we begin to earnestly try to recapture our better spiritual nature and our higher collective mission, lest the phrase “God Bless America” more appropriately becomes “God Help America.”
¹ igsd.org (INECE press release; “The Military Has Key Role To Play In Tackling Climate Change”). (Military Leaders and Climate Experts meet in Paris.)
² Massachusetts Attorney General’s case against Purdue Pharmaceutical.
(Photo Credit: Timothy White)