Such timing! Another great guest post while I play catch-up from Brooklyn. This one’s from Sean Rapacki. I’ve never met Sean; he works with my best friend at a library in Ohio, so I do feel like I know him to an extent. My friend’s told me stories. Good ones. Sean signed up at the beginning of the year to read “Bound for Glory” and write some commentary. Here it is:
Teen Librarian, Writer and Aging Indie Rock Fan, Sean Rapacki got his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and his big shot librarian degree from Kent State University. When he’s not helping teens find a good book or reading one himself, he still occasionally picks up his guitar and belts out a song or two. He lives in Ohio with his wife, stepson and rescue dog.
Reading Woody Guthrie’s autobiography in the year 2012 it is impossible to ignore how Woody’s time resonates with our own. Every Occupy protester seems like a spiritual descendant of the man who wrote This Land Is Your Land. But it is not the history writ large in Bound For Glory that effects me most deeply. Conversely, it is the history writ small that sticks with me: strangers sharing some scraps of food or passing a bottle, looking out for each other amidst the adversity. Hard times tend to bring the worst in our nature, and we’re not shocked when we read about a man getting beaten for his money, or even getting beaten by those in power just for the thrill of exerting their power, but spontaneous acts of kindness still have the power to command our attention. When, while riding the top of a box car, two children literally give Woody the shirts off their backs to shield his guitar from the rain, how are we supposed to top that with pedestrian tales of selfishness and greed? There is something so ordinary, so utterly banal, about the machine that would oppress us, and something so magical and yet so simple about the acts of giving that define our resistance. When a couple of kids with nothing to their names can reach out to help protect something that, to them, symbolizes hope and creation, how can we possibly doubt that we are truly bound for glory, however hard the road may be and however unstoppable the forces that oppose us may seem? Guthrie was undoubtedly a remarkable man, but perhaps his greatest achievement was to see past all the struggle to those aspects of humankind that make us worth the struggle in the first place.