Can We Ever Get Together?

The song “Get Together” was written in 1963 by a songwriter who went by the stage name of Dino Valente. “Get Together” was recorded by The Kingston Trio and also by We Five (of “You Were on My Mind” fame) in the mid-60’s. The Youngbloods recorded the song in 1967 and it became a minor hit. The song had a major breakthrough after the National Council of Christians and Jews used the song for radio commercials to promote unity. In 1969 the song became a top five hit and one of the quintessential peace songs of the era.

I remember listening to the static on my AM transistor radio while singing along with The Youngbloods in 1969. I was in my junior year in high school and I was sure that my generation could make a difference. We would fix the mess that my parents and grandparents had made. Now my kids dream of repairing the mess my generation has left. We believed peace was possible…we just had to get together. This would be easy enough. Just love one another. Everybody sing now…

Love is but the song we sing,
And fears the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Know the dove is on the wing
And you need not know why
C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev’rybody get together
Try and love one another right now

Nice words. The problem was contained in the last line of lyric above. Try and love one another right now. How is that working out for our peace loving generation? Not so well. It is far easier to sing about loving one another than it is to actually love another. No matter how much I “try” I seem to fail miserably when I determine that I will, in my own strength, love others. It is easy to love some people. But loving the unlovable is the challenge. On that count we have not done so well. Jesus pointed out my hypocrisy on that count.

If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. (Matt 5, The Message)

As an idealistic teen I believed that more education, communication, and edification would change the world. I believed that the problem was not sin. The problem was a lack of knowledge. I was wrong. The problem is sin. Education and communication certainly help. But real change comes from the inside out. And for me that came from the most amazing revolutionary in history, Jesus Christ. How we have marginalized the powerful teachings of Jesus. He bluntly said that peace was not going to be found in this life.

“But the time is coming–in fact, it is already here–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16, NLT)

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would comfort us in times of trouble and that the peace the world advocates would fall short.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14, NLT)

I watch the news and my heart aches. I wish we could have peace on earth but I have come to believe that is not possible through human institutions. I truly wish it were possible. The lyrics continue with an interesting twist.

Some will come and some will go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last

I am not sure if the writer of this song really believed that Jesus would return for us at last. Christians maintain that Jesus will return as one of our articles of faith. But we don’t really live as if we believe that.

You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both

I believe there is one key to love and fear. But we do not hold the key. We do, however, have the opportunity to respond to the key to love and fear. His name is Jesus. Forty-eight years I asked Him to unlock my heart. I began changing at that moment. And with each passing year I get a little better learning how to…

Love one another right now
Right now
Right now!

But it is not in my trying that it is getting better. It is by trusting God and allowing Him to love me. Then I can love others.