Reflections on Bob Marley’s first song in this world.

In a recent conversation on the notable humans to shape history, I was speaking with a person who kept mentioning Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus. I asked him, “Have you ever looked into Bob Marley?”

He looked at me a bit stunned as he did not consider a musical artist anywhere near the same tier as these people and told me that he had never looked into him as his focus was on those who attempted to impact society in a deep and sacrificial way.

I did not bring Marley up to him again until later down the road, but it did spark more thoughts within me as I reflected further. I felt that this friend was extremely thoughtful and well-meaning, but his focus seemed to be on the activism and sacrifice: Selma Bridge, Dharasana Salt Works, and the Cross.  When I would ask him what he sees in a world beyond all these horrors which require activism and civil disobedience to overcome, he refused to look to that possibility. His focus is here in the mud of the current reality. It is noble indeed to fight out all this within the horrific trenches that lay before us on this earth, but sometimes I dream of a world beyond this one. A world beyond the schisms, manipulation, starvation, murder, oppression, and endless wars rooted in greed. I suppose that is why I love my concept of Bob Marley. He did not take on the lower world in physical or even mental. He went straight to the higher world and the spiritual and the rest followed. He wove his poetry and mysticism such that he touched the hearts of the oppressors and the oppressed. He wrote the soundtrack for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and played on all the Rez radios from the Crow to the Diné. Tibetans, Quechua, and Israelis can all smile at the mention of his work. He lived a life halfway through the door to the higher world so physical activism was less important. He lived as a Lion and Babylon no longer existed within his framework so there was nothing more he had to personally fight with. Still he saw one of his great purposes was to help others see and soothe them into entering the higher planes of existence. “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, for none of them can stop the times”…

He came to this earth, born of an Adinkra Warrior Mother and a European Plantation Manager Father. His message was unifying and transcendent. He symbolically and spiritually lived across all borders.

“Can’t take your slogans no more, can’t take your slogans no more… Confusing the people, while your asphalt burns our tired feet.

I see borders and barriers, segregation, demonstration, and riots. Sufferation of the refugees; oh when will be free? We can’t take your slogans no more… No more sweet talk from a pulpit… No more sweet talk from the hypocrites.”

At times, I wonder what a world would be like if there was no Babylon to fight. If there was no oppression or hurt left to take on. If a person’s joy rested in only those battles, then they have to search out more pain and oppression as each battle comes to a close. One of Marley’s extra messages to me is the idea that art, poetry, and expression give a new joy beyond the physical world battles. He knew the physical world still raged, but his own mental slavery was over. His deepest personal battles were over, so he helped others still in the physical trenches through his art and the power of his poetry.

I do not know what his first song sounded like, but I am sure it was similar to the cry most other babies give… except there were backup singers “cry to me now… cry cry cry to me now”.

Chant down Babylon.

-Trey from the Longhouse (written at Standing Rock on the night of Marley’s first cries many years ago)