A Song About War Worth Your Attention

Oct 1, 2013 by

Barry Keenan3Barry Keenan

(A regular feature on the Bill of Responsibilities website is acknowledging people’s products and behavior that we believe deserves recognition.)

Barry Keenan is a well-known and critically-acclaimed LA singer/songwriter. His song “Our Comfortable Lives” is a tribute to the men and women in the military who sacrifice their comfort so that we may preserve our own. Sometimes our comfort insulates us from the contributions made by others. Sometimes to the point that those contributors become invisible.

Barry’s song has touched tens of thousands of people. It was the #1 song on Neil Young’s “Living With War Today” website for 62 weeks in a row and currently ranks #1 again. This fact says a lot about the song’s power because the site ranks the popularity of more than 3000 songs.

The song was published this year in a French textbook that included the lyrics of Woody Guthrie, Eminem, Paul Stookey, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ray Davies, Freddi Mercury, among many others.

BOR musicDespite his rock star appearance and being the author of a “war protest song,” Keenan, the father of three, ranging from 8 to 19, is not easily labeled politically. “While I believe the government is responsible for its actions, I also believe each individual is responsible for his or her actions as well. I also believe that parents are responsible for their children. There will come a time when my kids are responsible for their own actions. Until then I do my best to provide them the best tools with which to build a good life. Today more than ever children need parents to be parents. Parents influence their children’s behavior, whether they intend to or not. For me, being a parent–being there for my kids–is the most important thing I do.”

Our Comfortable Lives

I saw a man wounded/The physical kind
He had shrapnel in his head/It severed his mind
It’s so terrible war/People suffer and die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

 Now the folks on the hill/Have their cocktails at eight
The finest of food/Is served on their plate
They dine and decide/Your future and fate
You have to be special/To get through their gate

For thousands of years/We can’t get it right
We torture and maim/And kill when we fight
It’s a terrible war/People suffer and die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

 I think a cease fire/Would serve us all well
It’s time to bring peace/And love to this hell
Death after death/It’s the toll of the knell
It’s time we start ringing/The new freedom bell

 I saw a man wounded/The psychological kind
He had hate in his head/And death on his mind
It’s a terrible war/The innocent die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

“Doing radio for so long, I have heard some of the best songwriters.
This is a well-crafted song, written by a brilliant songwriter.”
- Roz Larman, Host/Producer, FolkScene Radio, July 2010
“Barry–very powerful, and moving too!”
- Drey Samuelson, Chief of Staff for US Senator Tim Johnson
“The song is great! If it can only be played in every language and in every country in the world!”
- Michael CY Tsang
“This song is the most relevant social song for this or any other war generation that I’ve heard.”
- Gene Herd
“The lyrics are very powerful and timeless. This song moves my soul and makes me proud to be an American.”
- Michelle Williams

Click here to hear the song

 

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Teen Bill Of Responsibilities Course in LA

Sep 2, 2013 by

connie4As the teacher of the The Teen Bill of Responsibilities class, I can say that students learn the difference between rights and responsibilities. They understand that they do not have the right to do anything they want, and that more rights come with more responsibilities. Sharing their own experiences about responsibilities at home, in school, in their communities, with family and friends, has been eye opening for students and this teacher.

One of the good things about the class discussions is that there are no right or wrong answers. This does NOT mean there is no such thing as a right or wrong thing to do. The “no right or wrong answer” policy simply allows students to open up, freely, without fear of offering an incorrect answer. Students feel free to discuss what personal responsibility really means to them. Their answers are helpful to themselves as well as to one another. They have learned that responsible teens attend school daily, unless there is an emergency. Responsible teens complete classroom assignments and work hard to make good grades. Responsible teens demonstrate good behavior at home, at school and in the community. Responsible teens often look at themselves as good role models to other teens. I think that the general discussion of their personal responsibilities inspires self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem.

I believe that students enjoy the discussion about responsibilities when it comes to the family because they rely on their families for so much. One student said that she realized one of her responsibilities to her family, was to “do my best to succeed in school.”

Many students said they understand they should complete their chores at home. They understand the family structure and how important it is to them. They know that their families are responsible for them and they expressed appreciation and gratitude during the class discussion. They know their parents or guardians have more responsibilities than they do and as students they also know that they are not ready to take on those responsibilities at this time.

All the students in the class participated in the discussion about responsibilities to school and friends. They understand that they have to be more responsible in school to be able to succeed academically.

As a teacher, I know how very important it is to have responsible students in the classroom, because more instruction takes place instead of disruption.

BOR award gdThe issue of school safety was discussed because students can focus more clearly in a safe environment. Schools have responsibilities to students such as providing a quality education and safe campuses. Students have responsibilities to schools such as not endangering other students and not being disruptive.

Overall, the Teen Bill of Responsibilities class is a wonderful class where students learn how to stay on track, focus, and remain responsible. These life lessons learned help students differentiate themselves from the crowd.

I really love teaching this class to help teens become more responsible to their families, schools, communities and friends. I am also learning from the students through the discussions.

The parents are happy to drive their teens to the class (which takes place after school) and some even sit in the class with the students. They have expressed to me how important the Teen Bill of Responsibilities class is for their teens because it helps keep them on track.

Connie Bessman-Natt

Teacher/Counselor

Los Angeles Unified School District

 

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