Friday, November 8, 2013

Paul Kelly's "From Little Things Big Things Grow," And The Winds of Change in America

Today's quiet, but momentous announcement of a law that effectively insures Americans' access to mental health treatment prompted me to think of a personal mantra adopted over the past decade or so.

"From little things, big things grow."  I often use it when referring to a struggle's fruition.

It's the title of a Paul Kelly song, penned with Indigenous Australian musician Kev Carmody over 20 years ago and initially released on Kelly's outrageously brilliant 1991 album with the Messengers, Comedy.  Carmody has also recorded it; the two iconic artists have been known to sing it together from time to time.

"From Little Things Big Things Grow" remains a prime example of folklore, of storytelling, in song, and is considered by many Australians to be a national treasure.  It's been covered countless times over the years; a true classic.  The song relates the legendary, ultimately successful Gurindji Strike  — a late-1960s/early 1970s labor and land dispute — and its leader, Vincent Lingiari.

"Vincent said, 'If we fall, others are rising.'"

For all of the frightening, hateful rhetoric on display in America, there has also been a wind of incredibly positive change blowing here in recent years. Gays and lesbians serving in the military is now a non-issue; marriage equality is sweeping the land.  A new minimum wage is coming; immigration law reform is on the horizon.  And as of today, an insurer can't charge more for mental health care coverage, or limit it.  People unfortunately had to fight for these things, and not just politicians.

Indomitable people, grassroots leaders — Vincent Lingiaris — here and there, across the country.  There are many struggles for justice ahead, but it's important to pause and remember the battles won, and celebrate those who lead the way.

- Steve Stav