Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Post: Singing from the Soul Under the Solidari-tree

Guest post by Ryan Wherley
I was lucky enough to have a late, extended lunch today that afforded me the opportunity to make it down to the Capitol for today's outdoor Solidarity Sing Along for about the final half hour. I could already hear the singing and instrumentalists as I got out of my car two blocks away and ran all the way to the Square.

As soon as I got within seeing distance, I saw an amazingly beautiful sight: hundreds of people gathered and singing near the Solidari-tree on the Capitol lawn, easily the most people I've seen there for an SSA since the gut-wrenching night of the Recall election. I found it to be an excellent karmic sign that they had just started my favorite song from the book, "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister," as I bound across the street to join the peaceably assembled Winter Soldiers.

Looking around and seeing so many friends and faces that I hadn't seen in months, plus scores of people I'd never seen before showing up from around the state to stand shoulder to shoulder in song, was absolutely beautiful. We didn't let the Tea Party instigators affect what we were doing, and the entire gathering just went about our business, joyously and respectfully, as we always do.

I'm so grateful that Daithi Wolfe heeded my request to play "How Can I Keep From Singing?" Hearing nearly 300 people and dozens of Learning Curve musicians soulfully unleashing that tune was an unforgettable moment, as that song has come to define the spirit of the Solidarity Sing Along for me.

I don't know how many more opportunities I'll have to participate in the SSA, singing songs of labor, resistance, peace, justice, Wisconsin and our struggle to save our state, so I'm not taking any of these rare occasions for granted. After attending hundreds of Sing Alongs during what was the most difficult stretch of my life, it developed a healing power over me that never fails to lift my spirits. Being able to stand and contribute my voice for just half an hour in support of the people who are bravely standing up to the heavy-handed police tactics of the Walker regime, risking arrest for expressing their rights, certainly won't change anything in the big picture. But being able to bear witness to such an incredible moment in the Movement's history gave me hope and provided me with the inspiration I need to keep telling the stories of those on the front lines who simply refuse to stop fighting for what is right and just.

"The real emergency is my governEr's austerity plan
and the appalling suppression of 1st Amendment rights"

It kills me to not be there with them, staring fascism in the face as it assuredly drags one peaceful citizen away in handcuffs after another when the Solidarity Sing Along goes inside again tomorrow. But I will continue to show up every day after work and sing with my entire being until the building closes, taking every opportunity to remind the Fitzwalkerstanis that no matter what they try to do to us, we'll be here until Wisconsin gets better.

Goddamn, I love the Sing Along. No matter how many people show up tomorrow, and I'm hoping it will be hundreds upon hundreds more, know that you are singing for millions of people around the country and we've got your backs. Peace, love and Solidarity, my friends.

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