The times they are a changin’


Sir: Fifty years ago I wouldn’t even think of writing this letter but now it seems the right thing to do. I guess I have mellowed somewhat.

And I was thinking about the vigil at Downtown Chatham Centre in memory of the shooting in Orlando. And, whether I agree with the LGBTQ lifestyle or not, nowadays I have to keep reassuring myself that God loves everybody regardless of his or her thoughts.

Michael Smith, the Pride C-K vice-president, spoke the truth at the vigil when he said, “We need to show love, hope and compassion towards our fellow mankind.” He urged people not to succumb to vengeance and condemn the shooter, who also was also one of God’s children.

I’m am elderly guy, about 28,531 days old, and at one time I could probably have supported Donald J. Trump’s politics, if I had ever heard of him. But nowadays I have moved into the 1960s to study the popular folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, even though Mary Travers passed on in 2009. Their version of If I Had a Hammer became an anthem for racial equality.

Other hits included Lemon Tree, Leaving on a Jet Plane, and Puff (The Magic Dragon). They performed Blowin’ in the Wind at the August 1963 March on Washington.

Unlike me in the 1960s, they were vehement in their opposition to the Vietnam War, managing to stay true to their liberal beliefs and creating music that resonated in the American mainstream. They marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and performed with him in Washington.

When Mary passed on, bandmate Peter Yarrow told the media how, in her final months, Mary had handled her declining health with bravery and generosity, showing her love to friends and family “with great dignity and without restraint.

“It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic,” he said. “That’s the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity.”

Noel “Paul” Stookey, the trio’s other member, praised Travers for her inspiring activism, “especially in her defence of the defenceless.”

In a 1966 New York Times interview, Mary said the three worked well together because they respected one another, adding, “There has to be a certain amount of love just in order for us to survive together. I think a lot of groups have gone down the tubes because they were not able to relate to one another.”

The group disbanded in 1971, but remained politically active as well, performing at the 1995 anniversary of the Kent State shootings and performing for California strawberry pickers.

I think Peter, Paul and Mary would find plenty to sing about these days.

Stephen Beecroft



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