Red bean & hominy stew
Well, it’s been a day of catching up after working all weekend. A day of laundry and grocery shopping and trying to get the boys to clean their room. It’s been a day of thinking about Martin Luther King Jr, of driving on the grey wintery streets, listening to fragments of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on the radio, moved to tears. Obama’s first election was fueled by hope, it was buoyant with hope. And despite snide comments about hopey changey stuff, despite the sort of fatigue and discouragement that four hard years of dealing with Bush’s financial crisis have brought upon us, at this moment I feel more hopeful than ever. It’s not a hope as bright and far-reaching as that of the first election – but it’s a stronger, fiercer hope, based in reality and hard work. I don’t agree with all of Obama’s decisions, I don’t love every action that he’s taken, but I feel so grateful to him for starting conversations about health care, gay rights, women’s rights, gun control, climate change. Of course we should talk about these things! It’s remarkable to me that in 2013 these are issues we still need to address, let alone issues that take extraordinary courage to address. I think it’s difficult to understand just how brave Obama is for speaking publicly and openly about gun control and gay marriage. Despite petty political squabbling, despite ignorance, hatred and fear, we are taking small steps in a good direction, towards a world that must be inevitable if people are as kind and thoughtful as they have the potential to be. Martin Luther King spoke of non-violence with these words, “In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.” I hope that this is true, with the deepest weightiest and yet most buoyant hope imaginable. Obama ended his speech with these words, “Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.” And that birthright is not a possession or privilege unique to Americans, but a natural or moral right possessed by everyone, the world over – to work for freedom from the darkness of fear, ignorance, and cruelty.
I felt a little silly posting a recipe today, (and doing laundry, and cleaning, and all other trivial chores). But, maybe that’s part of what it’s all about – about the freedom to get on with these things. These chores are trivial to me, but are luxuries for some people. To buy healthy, nourishing food for your family, to cook it up in a way that you feel good about. To have a safe, warm home to serve it in. Everybody deserves these things! In that spirit I present to you a recipe for a warm, comforting stew full of flavor. I bought pomegranate molasses for the first time, and I’m having fun playing with the sweet/tart continuum. I decided to pair it with a tiny bit of mustard, balsamic, sage, red pepper flakes and smoked paprika, to make a spicy, sweet, tart, smoky sauce. And the biscuits are incredibly easy to make, and very tasty, too. They’re butter-free, and the taste of olive oil in a baked good is always surprising and pleasant.
Well, there are quite a few songs I could choose for today’s post, but I’m going to give you Mos Def’s Fear Not of Men. It’s based, of course, on Fela’s Fear Not For Man, the lyrics of which go thus…
Brothers and sisters
The father of Pan-Africanism
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Says to all black people
All over the world:
“The secret of life is to have no fear”
We all have to understand that
Mos Def’s song isn’t explicitly about Martin Luther King’s Day, but the lyrics have always resonated on this day of all days. He says, “A lot of things have changed, and a lot of things have not.” And there’s no doubt that this is true, for better or for worse. But the song is about courage in the face of danger, courage to work towards something that’s bigger than all of us. And it’s about a universal rhythm that beats through all of us, surely leading us inevitably in the same direction.
All over the world hearts pound with the rhythm
Fear not of men because men must die
Mind over matter and soul before flesh
Angels for the pain keep a record in time
which is passin and runnin like a caravan freighter
The world is overrun with the wealthy and the wicked
But God is sufficient in disposin of affairs
Gunmen and stockholders try to merit your fear
But God is sufficient over plans they prepared.