When I was growing up, I watched a ton of Saturday morning cartoons. Like most people my age, I loved School House Rock. I would watch the cartoons on ABC more than the other three channels we got because it carried the 5-min. lessons told in song between episodes.
Now that I have kids, SHR doesn’t play anymore. So I had to buy them on DVD. And, naturally, my kids love them. They have their favorites and they like to sing along. In fact, I caught them this evening watching and singing along to the America Rock episodes.
If you ask anyone to name their favorite, they’ll usually name off I’m Just A Bill or Conjunction Junction. Those tunes were awful catchy, but my favorite was American Melting Pot. This was reinforced a few years back when I caught a stage production of SHR for elementary students. The performers on stage were incredibly talented and truly deserved to go on to bigger and better things. Of the songs chosen for the hour-long show, I was really happy to see they included American Melting Pot. The woman who sang it had a gorgeous voice and really brought out the depth and beauty of the song — both musically and lyrically. Here’s the original version in youtube form:
If you click on the video and actually go to youtube, you can find the full lyrics. There’s a wonderful line right in the first verse that goes:
They’d heard about a country
Where life might let them win,
They paid the fare to America
And there they melted in.
Yesterday, Stephen Colbert testified before the House Immigration Committee in support of the legalization of undocumented agriculture workers. As you can imagine, his presence caused quite a ruckus within the members of the committee, and Rep. John Conyers even asked him to leave! (The chair, Zoe Lofgren, asked him to stay, so he got to speak.) But what many of the democrats who support the bill didn’t seem to understand, Colbert’s presence was tweeted and publicized all over the internet and drew much attention to what is (or is not) being done about this problem right now. Here’s his say:
As you can tell, he stayed in character for most of the time and tried to add levity to the hearing. His words *should* have given the lawmakers pause to consider the human factor in all this, but I’m not sure what would help there.
This is a tough topic with no easy answers, at least I don’t have an answer. I do, however, always take a stance on treating people with respect. And Colbert ended his time by saying exactly what I feel: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers … these seem like the least of our brothers.” For this important moment, he completely breaks out of character and ensures the committee that he means what he says. He ends by saying, “Migrant workers suffer …and have no rights.” Here’s his last words captured on video, so you can see what Stephen Colbert looks like in those rare moments when he’s being serious.
Again, I don’t know what the answer here is. But somehow this just feels connected to the Health Care issue, the fear of persons of non-Christian faiths, and the revocation of welfare assistance during these tough economic times. At some point, we should treat people equally and with respect. As in my last post, we have to be courageous when we see people not being given the freedoms that we all want to enjoy.
What happens to the least of us, reflects upon us all. It’s a melting pot.