This poem set me to thinking about what Hafiz is referring to as "the most common man" in terms of my country (The United States). This commonality Hafiz is referring to, also speaks to how the most common need to be valued for liberty and democracy to be made real. The foundation of this country has been built and maintained on the backs of oppressed and immigrant labor. Each individual engaging in opportunities this country offered while bearing the weight in trade in a hope for a brighter future. Everything else arose and was held aloft from that foundation. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was assembled piece by piece painstakingly by the most common people of extraordinary character*; people who comprise the heart of the democratic ideal. Each person working with an individual passion and a fire in their belly only to be betrayed by those who abuse power. The Statue arose, ironically, to be the welcoming herald home to so many disenfranchised people seeking belonging and is an iconic example of this construct.
This country is based upon a radical theory of fairness and balance of justice. It insists that everyone has a voice - from the virtuous to the heinous- as there is commonality in both that needs to be recognized or, at the very least, witnessed. Democracy hands over the power to the people in the belief that this empowerment is an evolutionary necessity not only to survive but to prosper and grow. It must prevail that we have enthusiasm and confidence in change and diversity as therein lies our true greatness as human beings first, and as a country, by consequence. A foundation that embraces and can weather change is a foundation rooted in the idea that everyone is free and willing to carry a portion (sometimes just our own, sometimes also for the weakened) of the responsibility and the benefit of freedom.
Thank you for listening.
Music: When I first heard this song, I was listening to the entirety of Carrie Elkin's album The Penny Collector and I didn't recognize it as a Paul Simon tune until the end. I was stunned when I made the connection because I can usually identify a popular song within three bars of it beginning. Carrie has sung this song with such passion that she made it her own from the first note. For me, to hear a woman sing it, gave it an even deeper sobriety and honest brilliance. It is a beautiful rendition.
* Thank you to Lidia Yuknavitch and her inspiring novel, "Thrust", for reminding me about how every American individual's passion can co-create a new foundation for liberation. A moving foundation embedded in the earth body that thrusts up to nourish a vibrant reality bountiful beyond measure can be achieved. I highly recommend the read.
The original post in this series of poems by Hafiz can be found here.
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.