“Do You Hear The People Sing?”

The gruesome news of 1,100 drowned immigrants in just one week seems overwhelming. They were young & old, men, women, & children with dreams & possibilities now rendered irrelevant while their families grieve.

In writing a post on Spanish protests against the Gag Act I read of activists who held a flash mob at the parliament singing “Do You Hear The People Sing” from the ending of Les Miserables & I went to listen to it again.

It reminded me of 1974 when I took a train from Paris to witness the revolution against dictatorship in Portugal. I traveled with immigrants returning home for vacation (who taught me to ride outside the train crossing the Pyrenees & shared their food with me since I heard 12 hours when the ticket seller said it was 32 hours to Lisbon). Through them I met activists in the revolution including African activists from the former colonies. Every day we joined massive protests. It was extraordinary to witness a social revolution. That it’s incomplete is another matter but it was unforgettable to see human beings take their destinies into their own hands.

Most renditions of “Do You Hear The People Sing” are quite machista & martial, leaving women out when women have always been in the forefront of social justice–as they are among the first victims of tyranny. But an anthem of social revolt suits my dark mood today, regardless of this misrepresentation.


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