I have a very long commute for my next project, so I am incessantly channel surfing to while away the hour-plus drive to the theatre. It's a nasty habit, but I bore easily. So this afternoon, on my way home, I happened upon some station that was playing an oldie but goodie that I fondly remembered from my youth: the O'Jay's 'Love Train'.
Flash back to the chaotic 70s- apart from the economic recession and the gas woes, we were still in the midst of the Vietnam War and the Cold War. There was the Yom Kippur War and the shift from modern secularism to Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, including the Hostage Crisis. We had the Indo/Pakistani War, and Idi Amin's brutal reign in Uganda.
The longest, most divisive conflict was the Vietnam War which, as it dragged on into the 70s, spawned a slew of anti-war tunes from Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On?' to Cat Steven's, pre-Islamic 'Peace Train'. All great songs, regardless of your politics or your stance on that particular war, or any other war for that matter.
Flash forward to 2008, and nothing much has changed. We are in what some people claim is a recession, our gas price woes have tripled, and there is even more chaos in this world then there was back then. Global conflicts abound, the problems in the Middle East have skyrocketed, Russia is poised to create another Cold War, and China is, well- China. Nothing much changed there.
As we continue to live in a world at war, a world that seems unable to embrace anything other than disharmony and discord, those songs about peace will continue to resonate as much today as they did back then. And although there are those who are so enmeshed in lives full of hate, or greed, or so full of desire for power that they've somehow lost their humanity, I still believe, at the core of most civilized beings, is an unquenchable thirst for peace; a desire to live in harmony with our neighbours.
Listening to 'Love Train' again, after all these years, was disarming in some ways. Most of the countries mentioned are the same ones we are having problems with today. But what I like most about the song is its simplistic, implied message: that love can conquer all.
So in the words of the O'Jay's "People all over the world, join in, start a love train, love train."