Trust the Music

‘It used to be the autocratic East against the democratic West or the poor South vs the rich North with all the countries caught in-between like the Far and Middle-East, South America, the South Pacific,’ I said to Camp.

            ‘Yes, and today most countries are siding with the democratic West as evident in the 141 vs 4 votes at the UN, condemning Russia’s or Putin’s war against Ukraine. Yet, there are large, populous countries like Indonesia, China and India who are not on NATO’s and the USA’s side when it comes to arming Ukraine or condemning Russia but are willing to help in humanitarian ways.’

             ‘Only North Korea, Belarus, Syria and Eritrea stand behind Russia. No surprise there. Nobody else condones or supports this horrific war but it’s a different world from the one after the second World War when the US was the sheriff of the so-called free world.’

            ‘Except they interfered without impunity in other countries’ elections and regimes and fought proxy wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,’ Camp said. ‘Also, the writing was on the wall, at least since 2014 and even before. Russia was never going to be a western style democracy especially under Putin who hates the west and the USA in particular.’

            ‘Globalization and international multi-country trade agreements, environmental accords and arms treaties, travel and trade, have woven a quilt across most of this world which enabled our technological and societal advances in so many ways that made us by far the most comfortable, healthiest and best-informed generation of all time. Even in autocracies like China and Russia, the lives of its populations improved. Now, this quilt is being torn apart and shredded.’

            We both looked out at the rain and the grey water. And then I heard the song in the background. ‘Eve of destruction’ by Barry McGuire. I pointed it out to Camp who picked up his ears. ‘A fitting song for our times. It is the music my friend that made us who we are, when the center of the world was Woodstock for one long weekend. Let’s face it, without American music we wouldn’t have the Blues, there would be no Country & Western, no Rock’n’roll; we wouldn’t have the Beatles, the Stones or Dylan. What did the Russians contribute to contemporary music?’

            ‘The Pussy Riot,’ I said, ‘and Nadya Tolokonnitova, one of their cofounders, spent two years in a Siberian prison for singing an anti-Putin punk prayer and she is still fighting the dictator, albeit from the US and with modern tools. “At times like this, only activism will keep you sane”, she posted this month.’ She is selling NFT[1] editions of the Ukrainian flag and has raised 8 million dollars for ‘Come Back Alive’, which mostly supports Ukrainian soldiers. 

            ‘Wow, I didn’t know. Good on her. Anyone protesting Putin in Russia at this time is my hero,’ Camp said. I don’t know if I would risk 15 years in the gulag for voicing my dissent.’

            ‘How will this awful war end?’

            ‘Like all wars. In rubble, death and destruction with millions of fugitives and broken promises all around,’ Camp said, ‘and the re-militarization of most of the world. Everybody suddenly needs newer, faster, more deadly weapons and arms. The hawks have won over the doves and everybody loses.’ 

            ‘I can see you’re not optimistic about a bright and rosy future for mankind?’

            ‘Humankind,’ Vicky said when she swapped our empties for full ones. 

            ‘You’re a ray of sunshine in these dark days Vicky,’ Camp said.  

            ‘I hope you tell Muriel the same thing,’ she laughed, ‘I see no point on taking on the weight of the world or worrying about things that I cannot do anything about. Like the war in Europe or the price of everything at the grocery store.’

            ‘We still have the music,’ Camp said. ‘Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me sane.’

[1] A non-fungible token is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, that can be sold and traded. Types of NFT data units may be associated with digital files such as photos, videos, and audio.

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