Here's the text of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.
Update: The letter was published on July 10, 2015.
From Bob Dylan to Dylann Roof. I'm surely not the first person to note the similarity of these names, but I am among the dwindling few older Americans who traversed as adults the fifty-plus years from the first airing of Dylan's prescient lyrics from "Blowin' in the Wind" to the last month's outrage in Charleston, South Carolina. How many deaths, indeed, must it take 'til we know that too many people have died?
It's with inexpressible sadness that many of us elders reflect upon those five decades, years that have brought ceaseless violence and death: wars that end, only to begin; terror and militarism abroad and at home; racism and bigotry unending in its force; poverty, fear and injustice as pervasive as ever. The brief moments of respite from this ongoing agony – as few as they have been, and mostly in song or oratory, from Dr. King's dream speech to Mr. Obama's recent eulogy – haven't stopped the carnage and misery. The slaughter of innocents and the death and displacement of people through war, murder, starvation, disease is unabated despite the rhetoric, despite the efforts of a few humans who strive to end it.
In 1961, we were "the new generation of Americans" to whom President Kennedy passed the torch, who were entrusted with the fate of the nation, of the world. I wish I could reflect upon our passage with pride of accomplishment, but to do so would be disingenuous. The answer, my friends – you younger Americans – is still blowin' in the wind.